# Questions tagged [computational-complexity]

This is a branch that includes: computational complexity theory; complexity classes, NP-completeness and other completeness concepts; oracle analogues of complexity classes; complexity-theoretic computational models; regular languages; context-free languages; Komolgorov Complexity and so on.

1,078
questions

**103**

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**11**answers

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### On mathematical arguments against Quantum computing

Quantum computing is a very active and rapidly expanding field of research. Many companies and research institutes are spending a lot on this futuristic and potentially game-changing technology. Some ...

**98**

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**10**answers

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### Analogues of P vs. NP in the history of mathematics

Recently I wrote a blog post entitled "The Scientific Case for P≠NP". The argument I tried to articulate there is that there seems to be an "invisible electric fence" separating the problems in P ...

**75**

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**24**answers

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### Which popular games have been studied mathematically?

I'm planning out some research projects I could do with undergraduates, and it struck me that problems analyzing games might be appropriate. As an abstract homotopy theorist, I have no experience with ...

**66**

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**6**answers

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### Computational complexity of computing homotopy groups of spheres

At various times I've heard the statement that computing the group structure of $\pi_k S^n$ is algorithmic. But I've never come across a reference claiming this.
Is there a precise algorithm ...

**64**

votes

**4**answers

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### What are the implications of the new quasi-polynomial time solution for the Graph Isomorphism problem?

This week, news came out that Laszlo Babai has found a quasi-polynomial time algorithm to solve the Graph Isomorphism problem (that is: $O(\exp(polylog(n)))$). He is giving a series of talks this week,...

**55**

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**8**answers

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### Example of a good Zero Knowledge Proof.

I am working on my zero knowledge proofs and I am looking for a good example of a real world proof of this type. An even better answer would be a Zero Knowledge Proof that shows the statement isn't ...

**52**

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**10**answers

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### The “sensitivity” of 2-colorings of the d-dimensional integer lattice

Consider the $d$-dimensional integer lattice, $Z^d$. Call two points in $Z^d$ "neighbors" if their Euclidean distance is 1 (i.e., if they differ by 1 on exactly one coordinate).
Let $C$ be a two-...

**50**

votes

**2**answers

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### Walsh Fourier Transform of the Möbius function

This question is related to this previous question where I asked about ordinary Fourier coefficients.
Special case: is Möbius nearly Orthogonal to Morse
!
Harold Calvin Marston Morse (24 March ...

**45**

votes

**3**answers

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### Testing whether an integer is the sum of two squares

Is there a fast (probabilistic or deterministic) algorithm for determining whether an integer $n$ is a sum of two squares?
By "fast" here I mean polynomial time (i.e. time $O((\log n)^{O(1)})$). Note ...

**43**

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**6**answers

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### Is it easy to produce hard-to-color graphs?

This question arises from my recent visit to my daughter's second-grade class, where I led some discussion and activities on graph coloring (see Math for seven-year-olds). In one such activity, each ...

**43**

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**7**answers

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### What is the time complexity of computing sin(x) to t bits of precision?

Short version of the question: Presumably, it's poly$(t)$. But what polynomial, and could you provide a reference?
Long version of the question:
I'm sort of surprised to be asking this, because ...

**42**

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**4**answers

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### A curious process with positive integers

Let $k > 1$ be an integer, and $A$ be a multiset initially containing all positive integers. We perform the following operation repeatedly: extract the $k$ smallest elements of $A$ and add their ...

**41**

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**2**answers

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### How fast can we *really* multiply matrices?

Background: The Strassen Algorithm, described here, has a computational complexity of $\text{O}(n^{2.807})$ for the multiplication of two $n \times n$ matrices (the exponent is $\frac{\log7}{\log2}$). ...

**40**

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**8**answers

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### Can a problem be simultaneously polynomial time and undecidable?

The Robertson-Seymour theorem on graph minors leads to some interesting conundrums.
The theorem states that any minor-closed class of graphs can be described by a finite number of excluded minors. As ...

**40**

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**4**answers

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### Why is “P vs. NP” necessarily relevant?

I want to start out by giving two examples:
1) Graham's problem is to decide whether a given edge-coloring (with two colors) of the complete graph on vertices $\lbrace-1,+1\rbrace^n$ contains a ...

**39**

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**8**answers

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### Problems known to be in both NP and coNP, but not known to be in P

One such problem I know is integer factorization.
What are other interesting cases?

**37**

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**10**answers

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### What is the shortest program for which halting is unknown?

In short, my question is:
What is the shortest computer program for which it is not known whether or not the program halts?
Of course, this depends on the description language; I also have the ...

**34**

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**4**answers

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### Massive cancellations

Let $A=\{a_1,\ldots,a_k\}$ be a fixed, finite set of reals. Let $S_A(n)$ be the set of all reals that are expressible as the sum of at most $2^n$ terms, where each term is a product of at most $n$ ...

**34**

votes

**1**answer

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### How hard is reconstructing a permutation from its differences sequence?

My interest in combinatorially motivated computational problems led me to search for simple problems that turn out to be computationally hard. In this pursuit, I came up with a problem which I hope is ...

**33**

votes

**19**answers

5k views

### What is the easiest randomized algorithm to motivate to the layperson?

When trying to explain complexity theory to laypeople, I often mention randomized algorithms but seemingly lack good examples to motivate their usage. I often want to mention primality testing but ...

**32**

votes

**8**answers

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### Is P=NP relevant to finding proofs of everyday mathematical propositions?

Disclaimer: I don't know a whole lot about complexity theory beyond, say, a good undergrad class.
With increasing frequency I seem to be encountering claims by complexity theorists that, in the ...

**32**

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**2**answers

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### The NP version of Matiyasevich's theorem

By Matiyasevich, for every recursively enumerable set $A$ of natural numbers there exists a polynomial $f(x_1,...,x_n)$ with integer coefficients such that for every $p\ge 0$, $f(x_1,...,x_n)=p$ has ...

**31**

votes

**1**answer

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### Is this conjecture strictly weaker than P=NP?

My three computability questions are related to the following group theory question (first asked by Bridson in 1996):
For which real $\alpha\ge 2$ the function $n^\alpha$ is equivalent to the Dehn ...

**30**

votes

**4**answers

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### Algebraic P vs. NP

I recently attended a lecture where the speaker mentioned that what he was talking about was connected to the algebraic version of the $P$ vs. $NP$ problem. Could someone explain what that means in a ...

**30**

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**1**answer

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### Guess that group via product queries

Suppose someone (person B) knows a finite group $G$ of order $n$.
You (person A) know only the order $n$,
and that $1$ is the name of the identity element.
The group elements are named $1,2,\ldots,n$ ...

**30**

votes

**1**answer

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### An edge partitioning problem on cubic graphs

Hello everyone,
I already asked this question on the TCS Stack Exchange, but it has not been resolved yet. Maybe readers of this forum will have other ideas or information, although I suspect that ...

**29**

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**3**answers

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### Given a polynomial-time algorithm, can we compute an explicit polynomial time bound just from the program?

Question. Given a Turing-machine program $e$, which
is guaranteed to run in polynomial time, can we computably
find such a polynomial?
In other words, is there a
computable function $e\mapsto p_e$, ...

**29**

votes

**2**answers

958 views

### A combination of two well-known complexity problems

Suppose you are given two graphs $G$ and $H$ and are told that one of the following two situations occurs. Either they are isomorphic, or one of the graphs contains a Hamilton cycle and the other ...

**28**

votes

**4**answers

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### A programming language that can only create algorithms with polynomial runtime?

Has someone constructed a programming language that can construct all the algorithms in P, and no others?
I'm interested in this restriction coming from the syntax naturally, as opposed to just being ...

**28**

votes

**1**answer

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### How strong is this conjecture? $(Z/nZ)^*$ is generated by “small” elements

Conjecture: There are constants $c,k$ such that every $(Z/nZ)^*$ is generated by its elements smaller than $k (\log n)^c$.
Where $(Z/nZ)^*$ is the multiplicative group of integers mod $n$. My main ...

**27**

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**2**answers

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### Simulating Turing machines with {O,P}DEs.

Qiaochu Yuan in his answer to this question recalls a blog post (specifically, comment 16 therein) by Terry Tao:
For instance, one cannot hope to find an algorithm to determine the existence of ...

**26**

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**10**answers

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### Can We Decide Whether Small Computer Programs Halt?

The undecidability of the halting problem states that there is no general procedure for deciding whether an arbitrary sufficiently complex computer program will halt or not.
Are there some large $n$ ...

**26**

votes

**1**answer

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### Why is proving P != NP so hard?

Does anyone have any insight into why it is so hard to prove that P != NP conjecture? There seems to be so much evidence in its favor, and so many problems and techniques with which to attack it, that ...

**26**

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**2**answers

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### Is there a syntactic characterization for BPP, BQP, or QMA?

Background
The complexity classes BPP, BQP, and QMA are defined semantically. Let me try to explain a little bit what is the difference between a semantic definition and a syntactic one. The ...

**25**

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**3**answers

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### Why do statistical randomness tests seem so ad hoc?

Wikipedia describes Kendall and Smith's 1938 statistical randomness tests like this:
The frequency test, was very basic: checking to make sure that there were roughly the same number of 0s, 1s, ...

**25**

votes

**1**answer

958 views

### Are sums of sequences decidable?

Suppose that $f,g$ are rational functions with integer coefficients such that $\sum_{n=0}^{\infty}f(n)$ and $\sum_{n=0}^{\infty}g(n)$ both converge. Is it decidable whether
$\sum_{n=0}^{\infty}f(n)=\...

**25**

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**0**answers

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### Computational complexity of topological K-theory

I am a novice with K-theory trying to understand what is and what is not possible.
Given a finite simplicial complex $X$, there of course elementary ways to quickly compute the cohomology of $X$ with ...

**24**

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**7**answers

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### Solving NP problems in (usually) Polynomial time?

Just because a problem is NP-complete doesn't mean it can't be usually solved quickly.
The best example of this is probably the traveling salesman problem, for which extraordinarily large instances ...

**24**

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**4**answers

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### How do we know that P != LINSPACE without knowing if one is a subset of the other?

I've seen that P != LINSPACE (by which I mean SPACE(n)), but that we don't know if one is a subset of the other.
I assume that means that the proof must not involve showing a problem that's in one ...

**24**

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**5**answers

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### Are there complexity classes with provably no complete problems?

A problem is said to be complete for a complexity class $\mathcal{C}$ if a) it is in $\mathcal{C}$ and b) every problem in $\mathcal{C}$ is log-space reducible to it. There are natural examples of NP-...

**24**

votes

**6**answers

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### The problem of finding the first digit in Graham's number

Motivation
In this BBC video about infinity they mention Graham's number. In the second part, Graham mentions that "maybe no one will ever know what [the first] digit is". This made me think: Could ...

**24**

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**6**answers

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### Are there any interesting examples of random NP-complete problems?

Here's an example of the kind of thing I mean. Let's consider a random instance of 3-SAT, where you choose enough clauses for the formula to be almost certainly unsatisfiable, but not too many more ...

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**4**answers

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### Discrete logs vs. factoring

One thing that I've never quite understood is why computing discrete logarithms (in the multiplicative group mod p) and factoring seem to be so closely related. I don't think that there's a reduction ...

**24**

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**2**answers

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### Determining if a rational function has a subtraction-free expression

This question was first asked by Mehtaab Sawhney in Alex Postnikov's combinatorics class.
Given a rational function $F=P(x_1,...,x_n)/Q(x_1,...,x_n)$ with (say) integer coefficients, it is often of ...

**24**

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**4**answers

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### Complexity of testing integer square-freeness

How fast can an algorithm tell if an integer is square-free?
I am interested in both deterministic and randomized algorithms. I also care about both unconditional results and ones conditional on GRH ...

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**2**answers

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### Counting subgraphs of bipartite graphs

I'm not a graph theorist or computational complexity specialist, so my apologies if this question is stupid or poorly posed!
Given a bipartite graph $G$ of $n$ vertices, how many induced subgraphs of ...

**23**

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**3**answers

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### Is the theory of categories decidable?

There are a lot of theorems in basic homological algebra, such as the five lemma or the snake lemma, that seem like they'd be more easily proven by computer than by hand. This led me to consider the ...

**23**

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**1**answer

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### Evidence for integer factorization is in $P$

Peter Sarnak believes that integer factorization is in $P$. It is a well-known open problem in TCS to identify the real complexity class of integer factorization. Take a look at this link for Peter ...

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**3**answers

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### Discrete Fourier Transform of the Möbius Function

Consider the Möbius function $\mu (m)$. (Thus $\mu(m)=0$ unless all prime factors of $m$ appear once and $\mu (m)=(-1)^r$ if $m$ has $r$ distinct prime factors.) Next consider for some natural number $...

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**2**answers

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### What is the complexity of this problem?

Recently on Dick Lipton and Ken Regan's blog there was a post about problems of intermediate complexity, that is, NP problems that are harder than P but easier than NP-complete. The main message of ...