A Bound on Partitioning Clusters

  • Daniel Kane
  • Terence Tao
Keywords: Additive energy, Hamming cube


Let $X$ be a finite collection of sets (or "clusters"). We consider the problem of counting the number of ways a cluster $A \in X$ can be partitioned into two disjoint clusters $A_1, A_2 \in X$, thus $A = A_1 \uplus A_2$ is the disjoint union of $A_1$ and $A_2$; this problem arises in the run time analysis of the ASTRAL algorithm in phylogenetic reconstruction. We obtain the bound
$$ | \{ (A_1,A_2,A) \in X \times X \times X: A = A_1 \uplus A_2 \} | \leq |X|^{3/p} $$
where $|X|$ denotes the cardinality of $X$, and $p := \log_3 \frac{27}{4} = 1.73814\dots$, so that $\frac{3}{p} = 1.72598\dots$. Furthermore, the exponent $p$ cannot be replaced by any larger quantity. This improves upon the trivial bound of $|X|^2$. The argument relies on establishing a one-dimensional convolution inequality that can be established by elementary calculus combined with some numerical verification.

In a similar vein, we show that for any subset $A$ of a discrete cube $\{0,1\}^n$, the additive energy of $A$ (the number of quadruples $(a_1,a_2,a_3,a_4)$ in $A^4$ with $a_1+a_2=a_3+a_4$) is at most $|A|^{\log_2 6}$, and that this exponent is best possible.

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