Explicit Codes for Poly-Size Circuits and Functions that are Hard to Sample on Low Entropy Distributions

by Ronen Shaltiel and Jad Silbak

Oded's comments

I liked the perspective offered in this talk by which various computationally bounded channels are to be viewed as a middle ground between the overly simplified average-case notion of a Binary Symmetric Channel and the worst-case notion of an unrestricted (malicious-flavored) channel that flips a bounded number of bits (attributed to Hamming). The known gap in the rates of communicating over the extreme type of channels raises the question of which types of intermediate channels allow meeting the higher rate of the most lenient BSC. Furthermore, for which settings can the rate bound be matched by an efficient construction?

The latter question is the actual focus of this work, which considers the case the computational bound is captured by (concrete) bounds on the size of circuits that determine the corrupted locations as a function of the transmitted (randomized) codeword.

Side comment: Let me seize the opportunity and comment that probabilistic encoding in the context of error correction was first considered (in the context of TOC) in the 1997 posting A Probabilistic Error-Correcting Scheme that Provides Partial Secrecy.

The original abstract

Guruswami and Smith (J. ACM 2016) considered codes for channels that are computationally bounded which modify at most a p-fraction of the bits of the codeword. This class of channels is significantly stronger than Shannon’s binary symmetric channel which flips each bit independently with probability p, but weaker than Hamming’s channels which may flip any p-fraction of bits and are computationally unbounded.

Recently, there has been a growing body of work that aims to construct codes against channels that are computationally bounded (e.g., bounded memory channels, channels that are poly-size circuits). In this work, we consider bounded size channels and construct codes that:

Achieving these codes implies circuit lower bounds (and therefore explicit constructions need to be based on hardness assumptions). This result builds on the recent result by Shaltiel and Silbak (FOCS 2022) that gave a randomized Monte-Carlo construction, rather than explicit codes.

A key component in our codes (that we believe to be of independent interest) is a new complexity theoretic notion of hard to sample functions (HTS). Loosely speaking, a function f is HTS for circuits of size n^c, if for every randomized circuit A of size n^c that samples a distribution (X,Y) such that X has sufficiently large min-entropy, it holds that Pr[Y=f(X)] is small. This notion is inspired by a related notion introduced by Viola (SICOMP 2012) in which X is the uniform distribution and is similar in flavor to the definition of multi-collision-resistant hash functions. Building on classical works on “hardness amplification” (and using many additional tools and ideas from pseudorandomness) we construct HTS functions under hardness assumptions.

Back to list of Oded's choices.