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Abstract:We consider the semi-random graph model of [Makarychev, Makarychev and Vijayaraghavan, STOC'12], where, given a random bipartite graph with $\alpha$ edges and an unknown bipartition $(A, B)$ of the vertex set, an adversary can add arbitrary edges inside each community and remove arbitrary edges from the cut $(A, B)$ (i.e. all adversarial changes are \textit{monotone} with respect to the bipartition). For this model, a polynomial time algorithm is known to approximate the Balanced Cut problem up to value $O(\alpha)$ [MMV'12] as long as the cut $(A, B)$ has size $\Omega(\alpha)$. However, it consists of slow subroutines requiring optimal solutions for logarithmically many semidefinite programs. We study the fine-grained complexity of the problem and present the first near-linear time algorithm that achieves similar performances to that of [MMV'12]. Our algorithm runs in time $O(|V(G)|^{1+o(1)} + |E(G)|^{1+o(1)})$ and finds a balanced cut of value $O(\alpha)$. Our approach appears easily extendible to related problem, such as Sparsest Cut, and also yields an near-linear time $O(1)$-approximation to Dagupta's objective function for hierarchical clustering [Dasgupta, STOC'16] for the semi-random hierarchical stochastic block model inputs of [Cohen-Addad, Kanade, Mallmann-Trenn, Mathieu, JACM'19].