Consider two square matrices $A(x,y)$ and $B(y,z)$ of dimensions $N×N$ containing boolean entries. Consider the output product matrix $C(x,z)$ where $C=AB$ (not boolean matrix multiplication but the entries store the count of how many $y$ generate a given output entry). Consider the decision problem of whether all non-zero entries of C are $\geq 2$. Is this problem known to be as hard as combinatorial BMM or triangle detection/k-clique detection using combinatorial algorithms? I am mainly interested in using "combinatorial" algorithms but any hardness result related to FMM would also instructive.

  • $\begingroup$ Why 2? As in, is it already known/easy for “at least 1”? $\endgroup$
    – daniello
    Jun 24, 2022 at 5:02
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ All non-zero entries of C will always be at least 1 since $A$ and $B$ contain 0/1 entries. So the answer to that question is always yes. $\endgroup$
    – karmanaut
    Jun 24, 2022 at 19:36
  • $\begingroup$ Is there a way on this website to send Bat-signal to lord commander @RyanWilliams? $\endgroup$
    – karmanaut
    Jun 29, 2022 at 4:16

1 Answer 1


This is not a proper answer but it might help you. I think a reduction to BMM might exist, but if it does, it will be hard to find: on the problem you ask for one bit (whether all ones are double-witnessed) while in BMM you ask for $n^2$ bits.

Now let us generalize this "witnessed 2 times" to witnessed $c$ times for any fixed $c\geq 1$.

  • If you were to ask for the positions in $C$ where the product is witnessed $c$ times then there would be an easy BMM reduction (see below).
  • In converse, if you were to ask whether there is at least one element that has $c$ witnesses then there would be an easy $O(n^2)$ algorithm (just compute the product and stop as soon as one element is witnessed $c$ times).
  • Your problem asks for all non zero element in $C$ to be witnessed $c$ times (at least), with $c=2$ and I don't know whether we can't do it but note that the case $c=1$ it is also unknown, as far as I know, how do it faster than BMM in deterministic time (see Freivalds' algorithm for a randomized efficient algorithm). Solving the case $c=2$ would also solve the case $c=1$ (see below). I don't know if we can adapt Freivalds' randomized algorithm for $c=2$.

Reduction : computing $\begin{bmatrix} A & A \\ 0 & 0 \end{bmatrix}\times \begin{bmatrix} B & 0 \\ B & 0 \end{bmatrix} = \begin{bmatrix} 2AB & 0 \\ 0 & 0 \end{bmatrix}$, hence finding the doubly witnessed elements in $ \begin{bmatrix} 2AB & 0 \\ 0 & 0 \end{bmatrix}$ gives $AB$ and testing whether the doubly witnessed elements correspond to all non-zero position of $ \begin{bmatrix} C & 0 \\ 0 & 0 \end{bmatrix}$ gives the the multiplication check of $AB=C$.

  • $\begingroup$ Thanks! This is definitely food for thought. One thing I'd like to point out - your reasoning for why BMM reduction might be hard to find might not be true. See the abstract and section 1.1 kam.mff.cuni.cz/~matousek/cla/tria-mmult.pdf. The same intuition also holds for triangle detection and BMM since detection is 1 bit but BMM is $n^2$ but reductions are there! I strongly feel there should be something from triangle detection here -- perhaps my question is equivalent to asking whether every edge in a graph participates in at least 2 triangles but I am not able to show it (yet). $\endgroup$
    – karmanaut
    Jul 1, 2022 at 17:42
  • $\begingroup$ Agreed, but I am not claiming that such a reduction does not exist just that if it does, it will likely be a non "trivial" one. I have also seen people use product vector-matrix-vector to optimize matrix-vector product so you can look there. Also note that my last point reduces to the problem "how to deterministically test whether AB=C?" which as far as I know, is open. $\endgroup$
    – Louis
    Jul 1, 2022 at 17:58
  • $\begingroup$ Another question I had, $C$ is the output of $AB$ but in the reduction, it seems $C$ is used as an input just like $A,B$. Is my understanding correct? We don't want to compute $C$ explicitly (otherwise it is BMM amount of work already. Second, $c=1$ should be trivial, right? Each non-zero entry of $AB$ is guaranteed to be at least $1$. $\endgroup$
    – karmanaut
    Jul 3, 2022 at 4:19

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