Annotations for Sparse Data Streams

A. Chakrabarti, G. Cormode, N. Goyal, and J. Thaler


Motivated by cloud computing, a number of recent works have studied annotated data streams and variants thereof. In this setting, a computationally weak verifier (cloud user), lacking the resources to store and manipulate his massive input locally, accesses a powerful but untrusted prover (cloud service). The verifier must work within the restrictive data streaming paradigm. The prover, who can annotate the data stream as it is read, must not just supply the answer but also convince the verifier of its correctness. Ideally, both the amount of annotation and the space used by the verifier should be sublinear in the relevant input size parameters.

A rich theory of such algorithms -- which we call schemes -- has emerged. Prior work has shown how to leverage the prover's power to efficiently solve problems that have no non-trivial standard data stream algorithms. However, while optimal schemes are now known for several basic problems, such optimality holds only for streams whose length is commensurate with the size of the data universe. In contrast, many real-world datasets are relatively sparse, including graphs that contain only O(n^2) edges, and IP traffic streams that contain much fewer than the total number of possible IP addresses, 2^128 in IPv6.

We design the first schemes that allow both the annotation and the space usage to be sublinear in the total number of stream updates rather than the size of the data universe. We solve significant problems, including variations of INDEX, SET-DISJOINTNESS, and FREQUENCY-MOMENTS, plus several natural problems on graphs. On the other hand, we give a new lower bound that, for the first time, rules out smooth tradeoffs between annotation and space usage for a specific problem. Our technique brings out new nuances in Merlin-Arthur communication complexity models, and provides a separation between online versions of the MA and AMA models.