I suggest the following definition of $\mathsf{\Pi_2 L}$ (similarly to the certificate definition of $\mathsf{NL}$):

A language $L$ belongs to $\mathsf{\Pi_2 L}$ iff there exists a deterministic Turing Machine $M$ and polynomials $p$ and $q$ such that

$$x \in L \Leftrightarrow \forall z \in \{0,1\}^{p(|x|)} \exists y \in \{0,1\}^{q(|x|)} M(x, z, y) =1.$$ Here $x$ is placed on its input tape and $z$ and $y$ are placed on its special read-once tapes, and $M$ uses at most $O(\log |x|)$ space on its read/write tapes for every input $x$. We can read $z$ and $y$ simultaneously.

What can we say about this complexity class? Since $\mathsf{NL} \subseteq \mathsf{P}$ we have $\mathsf{\Pi_2 L} \subseteq \mathsf{coNP}$. Can we say something else about this class? An example of a language from $\mathsf{\Pi_2 L}$ is here: Is unary $\Pi_2$-SUBSETSUM coNP-complete?

  • $\begingroup$ Why is the unary $\Sigma_2-\text{SUBSETSUM}$ problem in the class? For me it seems impossible to obey the read-once requirement. $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 21, 2019 at 7:38
  • $\begingroup$ @Kristoffer Arnsfelt Hansen at the first tape it is written the subset $S$ and at the second tape it is written subset $H$. Both of them must be given in the same order as the input. So, it is possible to verify that H is subset of S. $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 21, 2019 at 7:42
  • $\begingroup$ However I think it is not corresponds to alternating machines... $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 21, 2019 at 7:48
  • $\begingroup$ Aha, so the machine is allowed to read from z and y simultaneously? $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 21, 2019 at 7:50
  • $\begingroup$ @Kristoffer Arnsfelt Hansen Exactly! $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 21, 2019 at 8:03

1 Answer 1


If I got this right, $\Pi_2L$ as defined above is equal to co-NP. The co-NP-complete DNF tautology sits in $\Pi_2L$: Use z for the assignment and y to choose which clause to check. To show $\Pi_2L$ in co-NP, universally guess z and the rest can be computed in P.


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