On the connection between interval size functions and path counting
We investigate the complexity of hard (#P-complete) counting problems that have easy decision version. By ‘easy decision,’ we mean that deciding whether the result of counting is nonzero is in P. This property is shared by several well-known problems, such as counting the number of perfect matchings in a given graph or counting the number of satisfying assignments of a given DNF formula. We focus on classes of such hard-to-count easy-to-decide problems which emerged through two seemingly disparate approaches: one taken by Hemaspaandra et al. (SIAM J Comput 36(5):1264–1300, 2007), who defined classes of functions that count the size of intervals of ordered strings, and one followed by Kiayias et al. (Lect Notes Comput Sci 2563:453–463, 2001), who defined the classTotP, consisting of functions that count the total number of paths of NP computations. We provide inclusion and separation relations between TotP and interval size counting classes, by means of new classes that we define in this work. Our results imply that many known #P-complete problems with easy decision are contained in the classes defined by Hemaspaandra et al., but are unlikely to be complete for these classes under reductions under which these classes are downward closed, e.g., parsimonious reductions. This, applied to the #MONSAT problem, partially answers an open question of Hemaspaandra et al. We also define a new class of interval size functions which strictly contains FP and is strictly contained in TotP under reasonable complexity-theoretic assumptions. We show that this new class contains hard counting problems.
KeywordsCounting functions interval size functions path counting feasibility constraints easy decision
Subject classification03D15 06A05 68Q05 68Q10 68Q15 68Q17
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