Optimal Communication for Classic Functions in the Coordinator Model and Beyond


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In the coordinator model of communication with s servers, given an arbitrary non-negative function f, we study the problem of approximating the sum ∑_i ∈ [n]f(x_i) up to a 1 ±ε factor. Here the vector x ∈ R^n is defined to be x = x(1) + ⋯ + x(s), where x(j) ≥ 0 denotes the non-negative vector held by the j-th server. A special case of the problem is when f(x) = x^k which corresponds to the well-studied problem of F_k moment estimation in the distributed communication model. We introduce a new parameter c_f[s] which captures the communication complexity of approximating ∑_i∈ [n] f(x_i) and for a broad class of functions f which includes f(x) = x^k for k ≥ 2 and other robust functions such as the Huber loss function, we give a two round protocol that uses total communication c_f[s]/ε^2 bits, up to polylogarithmic factors. For this broad class of functions, our result improves upon the communication bounds achieved by Kannan, Vempala, and Woodruff (COLT 2014) and Woodruff and Zhang (STOC 2012), obtaining the optimal communication up to polylogarithmic factors in the minimum number of rounds. We show that our protocol can also be used for approximating higher-order correlations. Apart from the coordinator model, algorithms for other graph topologies in which each node is a server have been extensively studied. We argue that directly lifting protocols leads to inefficient algorithms. Hence, a natural question is the problems that can be efficiently solved in general graph topologies. We give communication efficient protocols in the so-called personalized CONGEST model for solving linear regression and low rank approximation by designing composable sketches. Our sketch construction may be of independent interest and can implement any importance sampling procedure that has a monotonicity property.
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