The long code is a central tool in hardness of approximation, especially in questions related to the unique games conjecture. We construct a new code that is exponentially more efficient, but can still be used in many of these applications. Using the new code we obtain exponential improvements over several known results, including the following:

  1. For any eps > 0, we show the existence of an n vertex graph G where every set of o(n) vertices has expansion 1 – eps, but G’s adjacency matrix has more than exp(log ndelta) eigenvalues larger than 1 -eps, where delta depends only on eps. This answers an open question of Arora, Barak and Steurer (FOCS 2010) who asked whether one can improve over the noise graph on the Boolean hypercube that has poly(log n) such eigenvalues.
  2. A gadget that reduces unique games instances with linear constraints modulo K into instances with alphabet k with a blowup of Kpolylog(K), improving over the previously known gadget with blowup of 2K.
  3. An n variable integrality gap for Unique Games that that survives exp(poly(log log n)) rounds of the SDP + Sherali Adams hierarchy, improving on the previously known bound of poly(log log n).

We show a connection between the local testability of linear codes and small set expansion in certain related Cayley graphs, and use this connection to derandomize the noise graph on the Boolean hypercube.