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From Trees to Polynomials and Back Again: New Capacity Bounds with Applications to TSP

Leonid GurvitsNathan KleinJonathan Leake
Nov 2023
We give simply exponential lower bounds on the probabilities of a given strongly Rayleigh distribution, depending only on its expectation. This resolves a weak version of a problem left open by Karlin-Klein-Oveis Gharan in their recent breakthrough work on metric TSP, and this resolution leads to a minor improvement of their approximation factor for metric TSP. Our results also allow for a more streamlined analysis of the algorithm. To achieve these new bounds, we build upon the work of Gurvits-Leake on the use of the productization technique for bounding the capacity of a real stable polynomial. This technique allows one to reduce certain inequalities for real stable polynomials to products of affine linear forms, which have an underlying matrix structure. In this paper, we push this technique further by characterizing the worst-case polynomials via bipartitioned forests. This rigid combinatorial structure yields a clean induction argument, which implies our stronger bounds. In general, we believe the results of this paper will lead to further improvement and simplification of the analysis of various combinatorial and probabilistic bounds and algorithms.
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