Improved Mixing Condition on the Grid for Counting and Sampling Independent Sets

Mathematics – Probability

Scientific paper

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Corrected a few small typos in earlier version

Scientific paper

We study the hard-core model defined on independent sets, where each independent set I in a graph G is weighted proportionally to $\lambda^{|I|}$, for a positive real parameter $\lambda$. For large $\lambda$, computing the partition function (namely, the normalizing constant which makes the weighting a probability distribution on a finite graph) on graphs of maximum degree $D\ge 3$, is a well known computationally challenging problem. More concretely, let $\lambda_c(T_D)$ denote the critical value for the so-called uniqueness threshold of the hard-core model on the infinite D-regular tree; recent breakthrough results of Dror Weitz (2006) and Allan Sly (2010) have identified $\lambda_c(T_D)$ as a threshold where the hardness of estimating the above partition function undergoes a computational transition. We focus on the well-studied particular case of the square lattice $\integers^2$, and provide a new lower bound for the uniqueness threshold, in particular taking it well above $\lambda_c(T_4)$. Our technique refines and builds on the tree of self-avoiding walks approach of Weitz, resulting in a new technical sufficient criterion (of wider applicability) for establishing strong spatial mixing (and hence uniqueness) for the hard-core model. Our new criterion achieves better bounds on strong spatial mixing when the graph has extra structure, improving upon what can be achieved by just using the maximum degree. Applying our technique to $\integers^2$ we prove that strong spatial mixing holds for all $\lambda<2.3882$, improving upon the work of Weitz that held for $\lambda<27/16=1.6875$. Our results imply a fully-polynomial deterministic approximation algorithm for estimating the partition function, as well as rapid mixing of the associated Glauber dynamics to sample from the hard-core distribution.

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