Fall 2018

Limits on All Known (and Some Unknown) Approaches to Matrix Multiplication

Tuesday, Dec. 4, 2018 10:00 am11:00 am PST

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Virginia Williams (Massachusetts Institute of Technology)

We study the known techniques for designing Matrix Multiplication algorithms. The two main approaches are the Laser method of Strassen,
and the Group theoretic approach of Cohn and Umans. We define a generalization based on zeroing outs which subsumes these two
approaches, which we call the Solar method, and an even more general method based on monomial degenerations, which we call the Galactic

We then design a suite of techniques for proving lower bounds on the value of ω, the exponent of matrix multiplication, which can be
achieved by algorithms using many tensors T and the Galactic method. Some of our techniques exploit `local' properties of T, like finding a
sub-tensor of T which is so `weak' that T itself couldn't be used to achieve a good bound on ω, while others exploit `global' properties,
like T being a monomial degeneration of the structural tensor of a group algebra. Our main result is that there is a universal constant ℓ>2 such that a large class of tensors generalizing the Coppersmith-Winograd tensor CW_q cannot be used within the Galactic method to show a bound on ω better than ℓ, for any q. We give evidence that previous lower-bounding techniques were not strong enough to show this. We also prove a number of complementary results along the way, including that for any group G, the structural tensor of C[G] can be used to recover the best bound on ω which the Coppersmith-Winograd approach gets using CW_{|G|−2} as long as the asymptotic rank of the structural tensor is not too large.