Specifying a positive threshold function via extremal points

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Vadim Lozin, Igor Razgon, Viktor Zamaraev, Elena Zamaraeva, Nikolai Yu. Zolotykh ;
Proceedings of the 28th International Conference on Algorithmic Learning Theory, PMLR 76:208-222, 2017.

Abstract

An extremal point of a positive threshold Boolean function $f$ is either a maximal zero or a minimal one. It is known that if $f$ depends on all its variables, then the set of its extremal points completely specifies $f$ within the universe of threshold functions. However, in some cases, $f$ can be specified by a smaller set. The minimum number of points in such a set is the specification number of $f$. Hu (1965) showed that the specification number of a threshold function of $n$ variables is at least $n+1$. Anthony et al. (1995) proved that this bound is attained for nested functions and conjectured that for all other threshold functions the specification number is strictly greater than $n+1$. In the present paper, we resolve this conjecture negatively by exhibiting threshold Boolean functions of $n$ variables, which are non-nested and for which the specification number is $n+1$. On the other hand, we show that the set of extremal points satisfies the statement of the conjecture, i.e.~a positive threshold Boolean function depending on all its $n$ variables has $n+1$ extremal points if and only if it is nested. To prove this, we reveal an underlying structure of the set of extremal points.

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