Bias vs low rank of polynomials with applications to list decoding and effective algebraic geometry

Bias vs Low Rank of Polynomials with...Algebraic Geometry - Abhishek Bhowmick

Abhishek Bhowmick
University of Texas at Austin
December 7, 2015
Let $f$ be a polynomial of degree $d$ in $n$ variables over a finite field $\mathbb{F}$. The polynomial is said to be unbiased if the distribution of $f(x)$ for a uniform input $x \in \mathbb{F}^n$ is close to the uniform distribution over $\mathbb{F}$, and is called biased otherwise. The polynomial is said to have low rank if it can be expressed as a composition of a few lower degree polynomials. Green and Tao [Contrib. Discrete Math 2009] and Kaufman and Lovett [FOCS 2008] showed that bias implies low rank for fixed degree polynomials over fixed prime fields. This lies at the heart of many tools in higher order Fourier analysis. In this work, we extend this result to all prime fields (of size possibly growing with $n$). We also provide a generalization to nonprime fields in the large characteristic case. However, we state all our applications in the prime field setting for the sake of simplicity of presentation. As an immediate application, we obtain improved bounds for a suite of problems in effective algebraic geometry, including Hilbert nullstellensatz, radical membership and counting rational points in low degree varieties. Using the above generalization to large fields as a starting point, we are also able to settle the list decoding radius of fixed degree Reed-Muller codes over growing fields. The case of fixed size fields was solved by Bhowmick and Lovett [STOC 2015], which resolved a conjecture of Gopalan-Klivans-Zuckerman [STOC 2008]. Here, we show that the list decoding radius is equal the minimum distance of the code for all fixed degrees, even when the field size is possibly growing with $n$. This is joint work with Shachar Lovett.