## Abstract

The hardcore model is a model of lattice gas systems which has received much attention in statistical physics, probability theory and theoretical computer science. It is the probability distribution over independent sets I of a graph weighted proportionally to λ^{|I|} with fugacity parameter λ. We prove that at the uniqueness threshold of the hardcore model on the d-regular tree, approximating the partition function becomes computationally hard on graphs of maximum degree d. Specifically, we show that unless NP=RP there is no polynomial time approximation scheme for the partition function (the sum of such weighted independent sets) on graphs of maximum degree d for fugacity λ_{c}(d) < λ < λ _{c}(d) + ε(d) where λ_{c} = (d - 1) ^{d-1}/(d - 2)^{d} is the uniqueness threshold on the d-regular tree and ε(d) > 0 is a positive constant. Weitz [36] produced an FPTAS for approximating the partition function when 0 < λ < λ_{c}(d) so this result demonstrates that the computational threshold exactly coincides with the statistical physics phase transition thus confirming the main conjecture of [30]. We further analyze the special case of λ = 1; d = 6 and show there is no polynomial time approximation scheme for approximately counting independent sets on graphs of maximum degree d = 6, which is optimal, improving the previous bound of d = 24. Our proof is based on specially constructed random bipartite graphs which act as gadgets in a reduction to MAX-CUT. Building on the involved second moment method analysis of [30] and combined with an analysis of the reconstruction problem on the tree our proof establishes a strong version of "replica" method heuristics developed by theoretical physicists. The result establishes the first rigorous correspondence between the hardness of approximate counting and sampling with statistical physics phase transitions.

Original language | English (US) |
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Title of host publication | Proceedings - 2010 IEEE 51st Annual Symposium on Foundations of Computer Science, FOCS 2010 |

Publisher | IEEE Computer Society |

Pages | 287-296 |

Number of pages | 10 |

ISBN (Print) | 9780769542447 |

DOIs | |

State | Published - 2010 |

Externally published | Yes |

Event | 2010 IEEE 51st Annual Symposium on Foundations of Computer Science, FOCS 2010 - Las Vegas, United States Duration: Oct 23 2010 → Oct 26 2010 |

### Publication series

Name | Proceedings - Annual IEEE Symposium on Foundations of Computer Science, FOCS |
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ISSN (Print) | 0272-5428 |

### Conference

Conference | 2010 IEEE 51st Annual Symposium on Foundations of Computer Science, FOCS 2010 |
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Country/Territory | United States |

City | Las Vegas |

Period | 10/23/10 → 10/26/10 |

## All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

- General Computer Science