August 2015, Vol. 27, No. 8, Pages 1796-1823
Minimal Sign Representation of Boolean Functions: Algorithms and Exact Results for Low Dimensions
Boolean functions (BFs) are central in many fields of engineering and mathematics, such as cryptography, circuit design, and combinatorics. Moreover, they provide a simple framework for studying neural computation mechanisms of the brain. Many representation schemes for BFs exist to satisfy the needs of the domain they are used in. In neural computation, it is of interest to know how many input lines a neuron would need to represent a given BF. A common BF representation to study this is the so-called polynomial sign representation where and 1 are associated with true and false, respectively. The polynomial is treated as a real-valued function and evaluated at its parameters, and the sign of the polynomial is then taken as the function value. The number of input lines for the modeled neuron is exactly the number of terms in the polynomial. This letter investigates the minimum number of terms, that is, the minimum threshold density, that is sufficient to represent a given BF and more generally aims to find the maximum over this quantity for all BFs in a given dimension. With this work, for the first time exact results for four- and five-variable BFs are obtained, and strong bounds for six-variable BFs are derived. In addition, some connections between the sign representation framework and bent functions are derived, which are generally studied for their desirable cryptographic properties.