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35
votes
3answers
4k views

Max-cut with negative weight edges

Let $G = (V, E, w)$ be a graph with weight function $w:E\rightarrow \mathbb{R}$. The max-cut problem is to find: $$\arg\max_{S \subset V} \sum_{(u,v) \in E : u \in S, v \not \in S}w(u,v)$$ If the ...
35
votes
8answers
3k views

Which definition of asymptotic growth-rate should we teach?

When we follow the standard textbooks, or tradition, most of us teach the following definition of big-Oh notation in the first few lectures of an algorithms class: $$ f = O(g) \mbox{ iff } (\exists c >...
35
votes
3answers
1k views

NC = P consequences?

The Complexity Zoo points out in the entry on EXP that if L = P then PSPACE = EXP. Since NPSPACE = PSPACE by Savitch, as far as I can tell the underlying padding argument extends to show that $$(\...
35
votes
1answer
1k views

Toy Examples for Plotkin-Shmoys-Tardos and Arora-Kale solvers

I would like to understand how the Arora-Kale SDP solver approximates the Goemans-Williamson relaxation in nearly linear time, how the Plotkin-Shmoys-Tardos solver approximates fractional "packing" ...
35
votes
1answer
1k views

NP-Completeness of the decision problem for the generalized 15-puzzle

I am interested in the natural generalization of the famous 15-puzzle, where you have to slide blocks until you have sorted all given numbers (usally there is a gap of 1 block). Now the ...
35
votes
1answer
1k views

Efficiently computable function as a counter-example to Sarnak's Mobius conjecture

Recently Gil Kalai and Dick Lipton both wrote a nice article on an interesting conjecture proposed by Peter Sarnak, an expert in number theory and Riemann Hypothesis. Conjecture. Let $\mu(k)$ be ...
34
votes
17answers
2k views

Hardness jumps in computational complexity?

Minimum bandwidth problem is to a find an ordering of graph nodes on integer line that minimizes the largest distance between any two adjacent nodes. A $k$-caterpillar is a tree formed from main path ...
34
votes
8answers
10k views

Alan Turing's Contributions to Computer Science

Alan Turing, one of the pioneers of (theoretical) computer science, made many seminal scientific contributions to our field, including defining Turing machines, the Church-Turing thesis, ...
34
votes
11answers
2k views

Approximation algorithms for problems in P

One usually thinks about approximating solutions (with guarantees) to NP-hard problems. Is there any research going on in approximating problems already known to be in P? This might be a good idea for ...
34
votes
11answers
4k views

Concepts in theoretical CS that would be approachable ages 8-14

Guessing it's unlikely a common question, but wondering if anyone has seen material that was clearly made to address this audience in a meaningful way.
34
votes
6answers
6k views

Code in Academic Papers

In my academic career, I've read quite a few academic papers on various computer science topics. Many of which involve an implementation and some assessment of that implementation, yet I have found ...
34
votes
3answers
1k views

Comparison-based data structure for finding items

Is there a data structure that takes an unordered array of $n$ items, performs preprocessing in $O(n)$ and answers queries: is there some element $x$ on the list, each query in worst time $O(\log n)$? ...
34
votes
3answers
3k views

Turing Machine restrictions that render halting decidable

If one restricts Turing Machines to a finite tape (i.e., to use bounded space $S$), then the halting problem is decidable, essentially because after a number of steps (which can be calculated from the ...
34
votes
3answers
3k views

Consequences of Factoring being in P?

Factoring is not known to be NP-complete. This question asked for consequences of Factoring being NP-complete. Curiously, no one asked for consequences of Factoring being in P (maybe because such a ...
34
votes
1answer
2k views

Consequences of $\mathsf{NP}$ containing $\mathsf{BPP}$

Many believe that $\mathsf{BPP} = \mathsf{P} \subseteq \mathsf{NP}$. However we only know that $\mathsf{BPP}$ is in the second level of polynomial hierarchy, i.e. $\mathsf{BPP}\subseteq \Sigma^ \...
34
votes
2answers
1k views

Consequences of $SAT \in BQP$

As a TCS amateur, I'm reading some popular, very introductory material on quantum computing. Here are the few elementary bits of information I've learned so far: Quantum computers are not known to ...
34
votes
3answers
2k views

Given a weighted dag, is there an O(V+E) algorithm to replace each weight with the sum of its ancestor weights?

The problem, of course, is double counting. It's easy enough to do for certain classes of DAGs = a tree, or even a serial-parallel tree. The only algorithm I have found which works on general DAGs in ...
33
votes
8answers
3k views

Problems with big open complexity gaps

This question is about problems for which there is a big open complexity gap between known lower bound and upper bound, but not because of open problems on complexity classes themselves. To be more ...
33
votes
12answers
5k views

Algebra oriented branch of theoretical computer science

I have a very strong base in algebra, namely commutative algebra, homological algebra, field theory, category theory, and I am currently learning algebraic geometry. I am a math major with an ...
33
votes
6answers
3k views

Efficient and simple randomized algorithms where determinism is difficult

I often hear that for many problems we know very elegant randomized algorithms, but no, or only more complicated, deterministic solutions. However, I only know a few examples for this. Most ...
33
votes
5answers
3k views

The unreasonable power of non-uniformity

From the common sense point of view, it is easy to believe that adding non-determinism to $\mathsf{P}$ significantly extends its power, i.e., $\mathsf{NP}$ is much larger than $\mathsf{P}$. After all,...
33
votes
4answers
1k views

Interactive proofs for levels of the polynomial hierarchy

We know that if you have a PSPACE machine, it's powerful enough to give an interactive proof of any level the polynomial hierarchy. (And if I remember right, all you need is #P.) But suppose you want ...
33
votes
4answers
884 views

Correspondence between complexity classes and logic

I took a class once on Computability and Logic. The material included a correlation between complexity / computability classes (R, RE, co-RE, P, NP, Logspace, ...) and Logics (Predicate calculus, ...
33
votes
2answers
3k views

Reference for NP-hardness of 3-colouring?

I have a historical question. I’m trying to determine the reference for the fact that 3-colourability of graphs (alternatively, $k$-colourability for given $k\geq 3$) is NP-hard. The tempting answer ...
33
votes
3answers
1k views

Hardest known natural problem in P?

I wonder, what is (currently) the largest number $k$, such that a natural problem is known with the following properties: An $O(n^k)$ algorithm has been already found for the problem. For any fixed $\...
33
votes
3answers
2k views

complexity of greatest common divisor (gcd)

Consider the following counting problem (or the associated decision problem): Given two positive integers encoded in binary, compute their greatest common divisor (gcd). What is the smallest ...
33
votes
3answers
2k views

Type classes vs object interfaces

I don't think I understand type classes. I'd read somewhere that thinking of type classes as "interfaces" (from OO) that a type implements is wrong and misleading. The problem is, I'm having a problem ...
33
votes
4answers
31k views

Why would one ever use an Octree over a KD-tree?

I have some experience in scientific computing, and have extensively used kd-trees for BSP (binary space partitioning) applications. I have recently become rather more familiar with octrees, a similar ...
33
votes
2answers
1k views

Cohomological approach to boolean complexity

A few years ago, there was some work by Joel Friedman relating lower circuit bounds to Grothendieck cohomology (see papers: http://arxiv.org/abs/cs/0512008, http://arxiv.org/abs/cs/0604024). Has this ...
33
votes
2answers
4k views

Status of Impagliazzo's Worlds?

In 1995, Russell Impagliazzo proposed five complexity worlds: 1- Algorithmica: $P=NP$ with all the amazing consequences. 2- Heuristica: $NP$-complete problems are hard in the worst-case ($P \ne NP$) ...
33
votes
3answers
1k views

What is the Volume of Information?

This question was asked to Jeannette Wing after her PCAST presentation on computer science. “From a physics perspective, is there a maximum volume of information we can have?” (a nice challenge ...
33
votes
2answers
2k views

NTIME(n^k) ≠ DTIME(n^k) ?

In "On determinism versus nondeterminism and related problems" (Proc. IEEE FOCS, pages 429–438, 1983), Paul, Pippenger, Szemerédi and Trotter proved that $\mathsf{NTIME}(n)\neq\mathsf{DTIME}(n)$. ...
33
votes
2answers
1k views

“Steve's class”: origin of SC

We "know" that $\mathsf{SC}$ is named for Steve Cook and $\mathsf{NC}$ is named for Nick Pippenger. If I'm not mistaken, Steve Cook named NC in honor of Nick Pippenger, and I was told that the reverse ...
33
votes
1answer
1k views

$BQP$ vs $QMA$?

The central problem of complexity theory is arguably $P$ vs $NP$. However, since Nature is quantum, it would seem more natural to consider the classes $BQP$ (ie decision problems solvable by a ...
32
votes
14answers
6k views

Book on Probability

While I have passed some courses on probability theory, both in the high school and the university, I have a hard time reading TCS papers when it comes to probability. It seems that the authors of ...
32
votes
11answers
2k views

What is the quantum computational model?

I have occasionally heard people talk about quantum algorithms and about states and the ability to consider multiple possibilities at once, but I have never managed to get someone to explain the ...
32
votes
4answers
5k views

What is the smallest Turing machine where it is unknown if it halts or not?

I know that the halting problem is undecidable in general but there are some Turing machines that obviously halt and some that obviously don't. Out of all possible turing machines what is the smallest ...
32
votes
11answers
23k views

Books on automata theory for self-study

I need a finite automata theory book with lots of examples that I can use for self-study and to prepare for exams.
32
votes
5answers
2k views

Programming languages for efficient computation

It is impossible to write a programming language that allows all machines that halt on all inputs and no others. However, it seems to be easy to define such a programming language for any standard ...
32
votes
5answers
2k views

Evidence that PPAD is hard?

There is often-quoted philosophical justification for believing that P != NP even without proof. Other complexity classes have evidence that they are distinct, because if not, there would be "...
32
votes
7answers
2k views

Algorithmic lens in the social sciences

Looking at questions through the algorithmic lens (i.e. from an algorithmic or complexity point of view) has become useful in disciplines outside of the 'standard domain' of computer science. In ...
32
votes
6answers
7k views

Is there a stable heap?

Is there a priority queue data structure that supports the following operations? Insert(x, p): Add a new record x with priority p StableExtractMin(): Return and delete the record with minimum ...
32
votes
4answers
15k views

Research and open challenges in Programming Language Theory

In the spirit of some general discussions like this one, I'm opening this thread with the intention to gather opinions on what are the open challenges and hot topics in research on programming ...
32
votes
4answers
840 views

Hardness of approximation assuming NP != coNP

Two of the common assumptions for proving hardness of approximation results are $P \neq NP$ and Unique Games Conjecture. Are there any hardness of approximation results assuming $NP \neq coNP$ ? I am ...
32
votes
3answers
890 views

An Anthology of Complexity Assumptions

In the paper The Random Oracle Hypothesis Is False, the authors (Chang, Chor, Goldreich, Hartmanis, Håstad, Ranjan, and Rohatgi) discuss the implications of the random-oracle hypothesis. They argue ...
32
votes
2answers
1k views

How did TCS become conference-oriented rather than journal-oriented?

Disclaimer: I can only vouch for my research fields, namely formal methods, semantics and programming language theory. The situation is possibly different in other parts of the discipline. It seems ...
32
votes
1answer
1k views

Does LOGLOG = NLOGLOG?

Define LOGLOG as the class of languages which can be computed in space O(loglog n) by a deterministic Turing machine (with two-way access to the input). Similarly define NLOGLOG as the class of ...
32
votes
1answer
2k views

Is Gap-3SAT NP-complete even for 3CNF formulas where no pair of variables appears in significantly more clauses than the average?

In this question, a 3CNF formula means a CNF formula where each clause involves exactly three distinct variables. For a constant 0<s<1, Gap-3SATs is the following promise problem: Gap-3SATs ...
31
votes
6answers
2k views

Empirical results in CS papers

I'm new to the CS field and I have noticed that in many of the papers that I read, there are no empirical results (no code, just lemmas and proofs). Why is that? Considering that Computer Science is a ...
31
votes
7answers
7k views

Books on programming language semantics

I've been reading Nielson & Nielson's "Semantics with Applications", and I really like the subject. I'd like to have one more book on programming language semantics -- but I really can get only ...

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