I am back in Atlanta after attending an awesome Barriers Workshop. This workshop is mainly about the barriers in resolving P vs NP problem and possible techniques to overcome these barriers. It is a five day workshop covering circuits lower bounds, arithmetic circuits, proof complexity, learning theory and pseudo-random generators. I enjoyed every talk and panel discussions. Everybody seemed very positive that .
Today’s post is a quick introduction to Relativization Barrier. I will write separate posts about natural proofs and algebrization barriers soon. Relativization Barrier is one of the first barriers we learn in an introductory graduate level complexity course.
In relativized world we grant the Turing machine M the access to an oracle that could compute some function A in a single time step. Such a machine, called oracle TM, computes relative to A, is represented by . Oracle TMs are used in Turing-reducibility, a generalization of mapping-reducibility.
The method of diagonalization relativizes i.e., any separation result in the real world, proved using diagonalization, extends to the relativized world. Baker, Gill and Solovay [BGS’75] showed that there exists oracles A and B for which and are provably different and and are provably equal. That is P vs NP has different answers in different worlds !! Hence techniques such as diagonalization, cannot be used to resolve P versus NP.
Theorem : An oracle A exists such that . An oracle B exists such that .
Let B be any PSPACE-complete problem. We have . The first and third containments are trivial and the second containment follows from Savitch’s theorem. Hence . Constructing A is a non-trivial task. Look at Sipser’s book (page 350) for details of constructing A.
Therefore any solution to the P versus NP problem will require non-relativizing techniques i.e., techniques that exploit properties of computation that are specific to the real world i.e., techniques that analyze the computations not just simulate them.
- [BGS’75] T. Baker, J. Gill, and R. Solovay : Relativizations of the P=?NP question. SIAM J. Comput., 4:431–442, 1975.