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 Fast matrix multiplication using coherent configurations

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We introduce a relaxation of the notion of tensor rank, called s-rank, and show that upper bounds on the s-rank of the matrix multiplication tensor imply upper bounds on the ordinary rank. In particular, if the -s-rank exponent of matrix multiplication- equals 2, then omega = 2. This connection between the s-rank exponent and the ordinary exponent enables us to significantly generalize the group-theoretic approach of Cohn and Umans, from group algebras to general algebras. Embedding matrix multiplication into general algebra multiplication yields bounds on s-rank (not ordinary rank) and, prior to this paper, that had been a barrier to working with general algebras. We identify adjacency algebras of coherent configurations as a promising family of algebras in the generalized framework. Coherent configurations are combinatorial objects that generalize groups and group actions; adjacency algebras are the analogue of group algebras and retain many of their important features. As with groups, coherent configurations support matrix multiplication when a natural combinatorial condition is satisfied, involving triangles of points in their underlying geometry. Finally, we prove a closure property involving symmetric powers of adjacency algebras, which enables us to prove nontrivial bounds on omega using commutative coherent configurations and suggests that commutative coherent configurations may be sufficient to prove omega = 2. Altogether, our results show that bounds on omega can be established by embedding large matrix multiplication instances into small commutative coherent configurations, while avoiding the representation-theoretic complications that were present in the group-theoretic approach.

Author: Henry Cohn; Christopher Umans


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