Property testing: A learning theory perspective

Dana Ron*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Property testing deals with tasks where the goal is to distinguish between the case that an object (e.g., function or graph) has a prespecified property (e.g., the function is linear or the graph is bipartite) and the case that it differs significantly from any such object. The task should be performed by observing only a very small part of the object, in particular by querying the object, and the algorithm is allowed a small failure probability. One view of property testing is as a relaxation of learning the object (obtaining an approximate representation of the object). Thus property testing algorithms can serve as a preliminary step to learning. That is, they can be applied in order to select, very efficiently, what hypothesis class to use for learning. This survey takes the learning-theory point of view and focuses on results for testing properties of functions that are of interest to the learning theory community. In particular, we cover results for testing algebraic properties of functions such as linearity, testing properties defined by concise representations, such as having a small DNF representation, and more.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)307-402
Number of pages96
JournalFoundations and Trends in Machine Learning
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2008


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