In a breakthrough Ryan Williams (STOC13/14) showed that $\mathsf{NEXP} \nsubseteq \text{non-uniform } \mathsf{ACC}^0$.

How far can we potentially push this result? In other words, what is the largest $f$ such that we know/believe

  1. $\mathsf{DTIME}[f(n)] \subseteq \text{non-uniform } \mathsf{ACC}^0$, or
  2. $\mathsf{DTIME}[f(n)] \subseteq \mathsf{P}\text{-uniform } \mathsf{ACC}^0$?

Obviously, both hold for $f(n)=\Theta(1)$ and both are false for $f(n)=2^{2^{n^{\Theta(1)}}}$ because $\mathsf{NEXP} \subseteq \mathsf{DTIME}[2^{2^{n^{\Theta(1)}}}]$. Unfortunately, I could not find a good source for this. Section 14.4.2 in the Arora-Barak textbook lists some results about $\mathsf{ACC}^0$ but only for specific modulus or relation to other circuit classes, e.g. $\mathsf{ACC}^0 \subseteq \mathsf{NC}^1$.

Concrete bonus question: Is $\mathsf{DTIME}[n] \subseteq \mathsf{P}\text{-uniform } \mathsf{ACC}^0$ known?


1 Answer 1


Most people would believe that DTIME(n) contains problems that are not in non-uniform ACC^0 (poly size). One reason is that the containment of DTIME(n) in non-uniform ACC^0 implies P is contained in non-uniform ACC^0, by a padding argument. We don't even believe that P = NC (arbitrary time t can be simulated in parallel time polylog t), which would be a weaker equality.

Nevertheless, it is open if DTIME(n) is in P-uniform ACC^0, or not. In fact it is open if NP is in P-uniform ACC^0. I don't think this particular open problem is evidence for the power of ACC^0 but rather the lack of techniques to attack ACC^0. (Although I have started to think that ACC^0 could potentially contain TC^0, I don't think it could contain P :))

Cody Murray and I already pushed the lower bound to NTIME(n^polylog n) not in ACC^0, back in 2018. There have been many follow-ups since then as well, improving on these lower bounds in various ways. Going below NTIME(n^polylog n) to NP seems to require a different approach altogether, but it's unclear to me that radically new ideas are needed. Especially once you allow the circuits to be P-uniform. The main bottleneck is probably the translation of polynomial-size ACC^0 to SYM-AND of quasi-polynomial size, which has been used in basically all ACC^0 lower bounds since 2010.

  • $\begingroup$ Thanks, this answer is on point. Is there a concrete candidate in P but outside nuACC0? $\endgroup$ Oct 31, 2023 at 20:47
  • $\begingroup$ Sure: P is not in nuACC^0 iff the Circuit Evaluation problem is not in nuACC^0. (Fun and very general exercise if you haven't seen it before) $\endgroup$ Oct 31, 2023 at 21:31

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