Barriers for fast matrix multiplication from irreversibility

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Determining the asymptotic algebraic complexity of matrix multiplication, succinctly represented by the matrix multiplication exponent ω, is a central problem in algebraic complexity theory. The best upper bounds on ω, leading to the state-of-the-art ω ≤ 2.37.., have been obtained via the laser method of Strassen and its generalization by Coppersmith and Winograd. Recent barrier results show limitations for these and related approaches to improve the upper bound on ω. We introduce a new and more general barrier, providing stronger limitations than in previous work. Concretely, we introduce the notion of “irreversibility” of a tensor and we prove (in some precise sense) that any approach that uses an irreversible tensor in an intermediate step (e.g., as a starting tensor in the laser method) cannot give ω = 2. In quantitative terms, we prove that the best upper bound achievable is lower bounded by two times the irreversibility of the intermediate tensor. The quantum functionals and Strassen support functionals give (so far, the best) lower bounds on irreversibility. We provide lower bounds on the irreversibility of key intermediate tensors, including the small and big Coppersmith–Winograd tensors, that improve limitations shown in previous work. Finally, we discuss barriers on the group-theoretic approach in terms of “monomial” irreversibility.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publication34th Computational Complexity Conference, CCC 2019
EditorsAmir Shpilka
Number of pages17
PublisherSchloss Dagstuhl- Leibniz-Zentrum fur Informatik GmbH, Dagstuhl Publishing
Publication date2019
Article number26
ISBN (Electronic)9783959771160
Publication statusPublished - 2019
Event34th Computational Complexity Conference, CCC 2019 - New Brunswick, United States
Duration: 18 Jul 201920 Jul 2019


Conference34th Computational Complexity Conference, CCC 2019
LandUnited States
ByNew Brunswick
SponsorMicrosoft Research
SeriesLeibniz International Proceedings in Informatics, LIPIcs

    Research areas

  • Barriers, Laser method, Matrix multiplication exponent

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