This lecture was part of the Institute for Advanced Study’s celebration of its eightieth anniversary, and took place during the events related to the Schools of Mathematics and Natural Sciences.
We consider the following two questions:
The small-set expansion conjecture introduced by Raghavendra and Steuerer is a natural hardness assumption concerning the problem of approximating edge expansion of small sets (of size $\delta n$) in graphs. It was shown to be intimately connected to the well-known Unique Games Conjecture.
Pursuing this line of research further, we obtain the following results:
The Stepanov method is an elementary method for proving bounds on the number of roots of polynomials. At its core is the following idea. To upper bound the number of roots of a polynomial f(x) in a field, one sets up an auxiliary polynomial F(x) , of (magically) low degree, which vanishes at the roots of f with high multiplicity. That appropriate F exits is usually proved by a dimension argument.