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# The Role of Interactivity in Structured Estimation

*Proceedings of Thirty Fifth Conference on Learning Theory*, PMLR 178:1328-1355, 2022.

#### Abstract

We study high-dimensional sparse estimation under three natural constraints: communication constraints, local privacy constraints, and linear measurements (compressive sensing). Without sparsity assumptions, it has been established that interactivity cannot improve the minimax rates of estimation under these information constraints. The question of whether interactivity helps with natural inference tasks has been a topic of active research. We settle this question in the affirmative for the prototypical problems of high-dimensional sparse mean estimation and compressive sensing, by demonstrating a gap between interactive and noninteractive protocols. We further establish that the gap increases when we have more structured sparsity: for \emph{block sparsity} this gap can be as large as \emph{polynomial} in the dimensionality. Thus, the more structured the sparsity is, the greater is the advantage of interaction. Proving the lower bounds requires a careful breaking of a sum of correlated random variables into independent components using Baranyai’s theorem on decomposition of hypergraphs, which might be of independent interest.