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Information Flow on Trees

Elchanan Mossel and Yuval Peres
The Annals of Applied Probability
Vol. 13, No. 3 (Aug., 2003), pp. 817-844
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1193228
Page Count: 28
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Information Flow on Trees
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Abstract

Consider a tree network T, where each edge acts as an independent copy of a given channel M, and information is propagated from the root. For which T and M does the configuration obtained at level n of T typically contain significant information on the root variable? This problem arose independently in biology, information theory and statistical physics. For all b, we construct a channel for which the variable at the root of the b-ary tree is independent of the configuration at the second level of that tree, yet for sufficiently large B > b, the mutual information between the configuration at level n of the B-ary tree and the root variable is bounded away from zero for all n. This construction is related to Reed-Solomon codes. We improve the upper bounds on information flow for asymmetric binary channels (which correspond to the Ising model with an external field) and for symmetric q-ary channels (which correspond to Potts models). Let λ 2(M) denote the second largest eigenvalue of M, in absolute value. A CLT of Kesten and Stigum implies that if $b|\lambda _{2}(M)|^{2}>1$, then the census of the variables at any level of the b-ary tree, contains significant information on the root variable. We establish a converse: If $b|\lambda _{2}(M)|^{2}<1$, then the census of the variables at level n of the b-ary tree is asymptotically independent of the root variable. This contrasts with examples where $b|\lambda _{2}(M)|^{2}<1$, yet the configuration at level n is not asymptotically independent of the root variable.

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