A note on the self-witnessing property of computational problems

  • V. Arvind
Session 7
Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNCS, volume 1090)


A computational problem π is said to have the Ptime self-witnessing property [5] if we can design a Turing machine code M such that if π is computable in polynomial time, then M is a polynomial-time Turing machine (recognizer or transducer depending on when π is a decision problem or function) that computes π. This notion captures constructivizing proofs of membership in P. For example, if we can show that some NP-complete problem is Ptime self-witnessing then any proof that P = NP implies that P is constructively equal to NP. This is still an open question.

We define analogous notions of DLOG self-witnessing, PSPACE self-witnessing and NC self-witnessing and study some properties. In particular, we show that logspace self-reducible sets are DLOG self-witnessing. Consequently, under suitable encodings, a standard P-complete problem and a standard NLOG-complete problem are DLOG self-witnessing. Similarly, we show that wdq-self-reducible sets are PSPACE self-witnessing and it follows that a standard EXP-complete problem is PSPACE self-witnessing. As a consequence, it follows that for complexity class K ε {P.NLOG}, if DLOG = K then K is constructively equal to DLOG. Likewise, if PSPACE = EXP then PSPACE is constructively equal to EXP.

Finally, we show that self-helping implies Ptime self-witnessing. We also show Blum-Kannan checkable computational problems have a weak Ptime self-witnessing property. All proofs in this note are based on applications of Levin's “universal enumeration” method [9].


complexity classes self-witnessing self-reducibility constructivity 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 1996

Authors and Affiliations

  • V. Arvind
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute of Mathematical SciencesC. I. T Campus, MadrasIndia

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