We present a new method for deriving lower bounds to the expected number of queries made by noisy decision trees computing Boolean functions. The new method has the feature that expectations are taken with respect to a uniformly distributed random input, as well as with respect to the random noise, thus yielding stronger lower bounds. It also applies to many more functions than do previous results. The method yields a simple proof of the result (previously established by Reischuk and Schmeltz) that almost all Boolean functions of n arguments require Omega(n log n) queries, and strengthens this bound from the worst-case over inputs to the average over inputs. The method also yields bounds for specific Boolean functions in terms of their spectra (their Fourier transforms). The simplest instance of this spectral bound yields the result (previously established by Feige, Peleg, Raghavan and Upfal) that the parity function of n arguments requires Omega(n log n) queries, and again strengthens this bound from the worst-case over inputs to the average over inputs. In its full generality, the spectral bound applies to the "highly resilient" functions introduced by Chor, Friedman, Goldreich, Hastad, Rudich and Smolensky, and it yields non-linear lower bounds whenever the resiliency is asymptotic to the number of arguments.
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