The additive Chernoff Bound says for $X_i \in \{0,1\}$ that satisfies $\mathbb{E}[X_i] = p,$ $$ \mathbb P\left(\sum_{i=1}^nX_i \geq np+n\epsilon \right) \leq \exp\left(-\frac{(n\epsilon)^2}{2(np+\frac{n\epsilon}{3})}\right) .$$ This inequality given by my advisor. I don't understand what kind of additive chernoff? I don't see anywhere in the Wikipedia.

I know only this, the additive version says that $$ \mathbb P\left(\sum_{i=1}^nX_i \geq np+n\epsilon \right) \leq e^{-2n\epsilon^2}.$$

Anybody help me how to get my advisor chernoff version.

  • 5
    $\begingroup$ Why don't you ask your advisor? $\endgroup$
    – GH from MO
    Commented May 24 at 5:31
  • $\begingroup$ @GHfromMO he is very angry, we don't have audacity to ask. One thing I notice that it looks like Bernstein's inequality, but there's no $np$ term. $\endgroup$
    – HDD
    Commented May 24 at 5:35
  • 7
    $\begingroup$ I suggest that you switch advisor then. You don't want to be in an abusive relationship. $\endgroup$
    – GH from MO
    Commented May 24 at 5:38
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ Imagine getting angry at someone over bounds… $\endgroup$
    – Nate River
    Commented May 24 at 6:55

1 Answer 1


The multiplicative Chernoff bound (as given here) tells us that $$\mathbb P\left(\sum_{i=1}^nX_i \geq np+n\epsilon \right) \leq \left(\frac{e^\delta}{(1+\delta)^{1+\delta}}\right)^\mu,$$ where $\mu:=np$ and $\delta:=\epsilon/p$. We shall prove below that $$\frac{e^\delta}{(1+\delta)^{1+\delta}}\leq \exp\left(-\frac{\delta^2}{2\left(1+\frac{\delta}{3}\right)}\right).\tag{$\ast$}$$ This yields the required bound, because $$\frac{\delta^2\mu}{2\left(1+\frac{\delta}{3}\right)}=\frac{(n\epsilon)^2}{2(np+\frac{n\epsilon}{3})}.$$

Finally, we prove $(\ast)$. Taking the logarithm on both sides, we get the equivalent form $$f(\delta):=\frac{\delta^2}{2\left(1+\frac{\delta}{3}\right)}+\delta-(1+\delta)\log(1+\delta)\leq 0.$$ Now $f(0)=f'(0)=0$, hence it suffices to show that $f''(\delta)\leq 0$ for all $\delta\geq 0$. However, $$f''(\delta)=-\frac{\delta^2(9+\delta)}{(1+\delta)(3+\delta)^3}\leq 0,\qquad\delta\geq 0,$$ and we are done.

Remark. In $(\ast)$ the denominator $3$ cannot be increased.

  • $\begingroup$ One little question, you derived it from multiplicative Chernoff but it's also true additive? $\endgroup$
    – HDD
    Commented May 24 at 6:09
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ @David The words "multiplicative" and "additive" are just convenient labels, they are not part of the mathematics. What is important is that the inequality is true, and I provided the proof. I have now explained $(\ast)$ in detail as well. $\endgroup$
    – GH from MO
    Commented May 24 at 6:29

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