Super-polylogarithmic hypergraph coloring hardness via low-degree long codes

SIAM Journal on Computing (SICOMP)
Sym. of Theory of Computing (STOC)
September, 2015


We prove improved inapproximability results for hypergraph coloring using the low-degree polynomial code (aka, the ‘short code’ of Barak et. al. [FOCS 2012]) and the techniques proposed by Dinur and Guruswami [FOCS 2013] to incorporate this code for inapproximability results. In particular, we prove quasi-NP-hardness of the following problems on $n$-vertex hyper-graphs:

  • Coloring a 2-colorable 8-uniform hypergraph with $2^{2^{\Omega(loglog\sqrt{n})}}$ colors.
  • Coloring a 4-colorable 4-uniform hypergraph with $2^{2^{\Omega(loglog\sqrt{n})}}$ colors.
  • Coloring a 3-colorable 3-uniform hypergraph with $(log n)^{\Omega(1/logloglog n)}$ colors.

In each of these cases, the hardness results obtained are (at least) exponentially stronger than what was previously known for the respective cases. In fact, prior to this result, polylog n colors was the strongest quantitative bound on the number of colors ruled out by inapproximability results for $O(1)$-colorable hypergraphs. The fundamental bottleneck in obtaining coloring inapproximability results using the low- degree long code was a multipartite structural restriction in the PCP construction of Dinur-Guruswami. We are able to get around this restriction by simulating the multipartite structure implicitly by querying just one partition (albeit requiring 8 queries), which yields our result for 2-colorable 8-uniform hypergraphs. The result for 4-colorable 4-uniform hypergraphs is obtained via a ‘query doubling’ method. For 3-colorable 3-uniform hypergraphs, we exploit the ternary domain to design a test with an additive (as opposed to multiplicative) noise function, and analyze its efficacy in killing high weight Fourier coefficients via the pseudorandom properties of an associated quadratic form.