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# Faster Spectral Density Estimation and Sparsification in the Nuclear Norm (Extended Abstract)

*Proceedings of Thirty Seventh Conference on Learning Theory*, PMLR 247:2722-2722, 2024.

#### Abstract

We consider the problem of estimating the spectral density of a normalized graph adjacency matrix. Concretely, given an undirected graph $G = (V, E, w)$ with $n$ nodes and positive edge weights $w \in \mathbb{R}^{E}_{> 0}$, the goal is to return eigenvalue estimates $\widehat{\lambda}_1 \le \cdots\le \widehat{\lambda}_n$ such that \begin{align*} \frac{1}{n} \sum_{i\in\{1,\ldots, n\}}|\widehat{\lambda}_i-\lambda_i(N_G)|\le \varepsilon, \end{align*} where ${\lambda}_1(N_G)\le \cdots\le{\lambda}_n(N_G)$ are the eigenvalues of $G$’s normalized adjacency matrix, $N_G$. This goal is equivalent to requiring that the Wasserstein-1 distance between the uniform distribution on $\lambda_1, \ldots, \lambda_n$ and the uniform distribution on $\widehat{\lambda}_1, \ldots, \widehat{\lambda}_n$ is less than $\varepsilon$. We provide a randomized algorithm that achieves the guarantee above with $O(n\varepsilon^{-2})$ queries to a degree and neighbor oracle and in $O(n\varepsilon^{-3})$ time. This improves on previous state-of-the-art methods, including an $O(n\varepsilon^{-7})$ time algorithm from [Braverman et al., STOC 2022] and, for sufficiently small $\varepsilon$, a $2^{O(\varepsilon^{-1})}$ time method from [Cohen-Steiner et al., KDD 2018]. To achieve this result, we introduce a new notion of graph sparsification, which we call \emph{nuclear sparsification}. We provide an $O(n\varepsilon^{-2})$-query and $O(n\varepsilon^{-2})$-time algorithm for computing $O(n\varepsilon^{-2})$-sparse nuclear sparsifiers. We show that this bound is optimal in both its sparsity and query complexity, and we separate our results from the related notion of additive spectral sparsification. Of independent interest, we show that our sparsification method also yields the first \emph{deterministic} algorithm for spectral density estimation that scales linearly with $n$ (sublinear in the representation size of the graph).