slideshow 3

Logic seminar

A Diagonalization-Based Approach to Proof Complexity

Iddo Tzameret
Imperial College London


Monday, 7. June 2021 - 15:45 to 17:15
Zoom meeting 472 648 284 - - contact to join
We propose a diagonalization-based approach to several important questions in proof complexity. We illustrate this approach in the context of the algebraic proof system IPS and in the context of propositional proof systems more generally.

We use the approach to give an explicit sequence of CNF formulas phi_n such that VNP \neq VP iff there are no polynomial-size IPS proofs for the formulas phi_n. This provides the first natural equivalence between proof complexity lower bounds and standard algebraic complexity lower bounds. Our proof of this fact uses the implication from IPS lower bounds to algebraic complexity lower bounds due to Grochow and Pitassi together with a diagonalization argument: the formulas phi_n themselves assert the non-existence of short IPS proofs for formulas encoding VNP \neq VP at a different input length. Our result also has meta-mathematical implications: it gives evidence for the difficulty of proving strong lower bounds for IPS within IPS.

For any strong enough propositional proof system R, we define the *iterated R-lower bound formulas*, which inductively assert the non-existence of short R proofs for formulas encoding the same statement at a different input length, and propose them as explicit hard candidates for the proof system R. We observe that this hypothesis holds for Resolution following recent results of Atserias and Muller and of Garlik, and give evidence in favour of it for other proof systems.

Joint work with Rahul Santhanam