The Intersection Problem for Finite Semigroups

Conference paper
Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNCS, volume 11088)


We investigate the intersection problem for finite semigroups, which asks for a given set of regular languages, represented by recognizing morphisms to finite semigroups, whether there exists a word contained in their intersection. We introduce compressibility measures as a useful tool to classify the intersection problem for certain classes of finite semigroups into circuit complexity classes and Turing machine complexity classes. Using this framework, we obtain a new and simple proof that for groups and commutative semigroups, the problem is contained in \(\mathsf {NP}\). We uncover certain structural and non-structural properties determining the complexity of the intersection problem for varieties of semigroups containing only trivial submonoids. More specifically, we prove \(\mathsf {NP}\)-hardness for classes of semigroups having a property called unbounded order and for the class of all nilpotent semigroups of bounded order. On the contrary, we show that bounded order and commutativity imply containment in the circuit complexity class \(\mathsf {qAC}^k\) (for some \(k \in \mathbb {N}\)) and decidability in quasi-polynomial time. We also establish connections to the monoid variant of the problem.



I would like to thank the anonymous referees for providing helpful comments that improved the paper.


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.FMIUniversity of StuttgartStuttgartGermany

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