Lecture 16


Definition \(P=\cup_{k\geq 1}TIME(n^k)\)

Definition A polynomial-time TM is a TM with running time \(O(n^k)\) for some \(k\in\mathbb{N}\)

A language \(L\in P\) iff it can be decided by a single-tape polynomial-time TM.

Why care about \(P\)


Theorem \(L\in P\) iff it can be decided by a polynomial-time

  1. single tape TM
  2. multi-tape TM
  3. RAM algorithm.
  4. ...

Proof Idea Show that single tape TM can simulate other models with only a polynomail slowdown.

Cobham-Edmonds Thesis Any problem that can be solved efficiently, by some physical computer has a corresponding language that is in \(P\).

Challenge Quantum Computation


Theorem For any polynomial-time TM \(A\) and any polynomial-time subroutine TM \(B\) that calls \(A\) as a black box (and counts as \(1\) transition), there is a single-tape TM \(C\) also runs in polynomial-time and behaves exactly as \(B\).

\(TIME(n^k)\) is not closed under subroutine calls for any \(k\geq 1\).


For many languages, there is a simple brute-force search algorithm that decides the language in exponential time.

For each of these language \(L\), showing that \(L\in P\) means that we can do exponentially better than brute force search.


Definition The running time of NTM is a function \(t:\mathbb{N}\rightarrow\mathbb{N}\) where \(t(n)\) is the maximum number of transitions followed on any valid computation path before the NTM halts and over any input of length n.

Definition \(NTIME(t(n))\) is the class of languages that can be decided by an NTM with running time \(O(t(n))\)

Definition NP=\(\cup_{k\geq 1}NTIME(n^k)\).

Definition The language \(L\) is efficiently verifiable, if there is a polynomail-time deterministic TM \(M\) that satisties

  1. \(\forall x\in L\), there exist \(C=\{0,1\}^*\) of length \(|c|=poly(|x|)\) such that \(M\) accepts \(<x,c>\)

  2. \(\forall x\not\in L\), \(\forall C=\{0,1\}^*\) of length \(|c|=poly(|x|)\), \(M\) rejects \(<x, c>\)

Theorem \(L\in NP\) iff \(L\) is efficiently verifiable.

Proof Efficient verifiable \(\Rightarrow\) \(L\in NP\).

We can build a NTM to guess the certificant and call the verifunc as a subroutine

NP \(\Rightarrow\) Efficient verifable

Use the certificate to determine which transitions to follow in a (deterministic) simulator of the NTM that decides \(L\).