On the Complexity of the Parity Argument and Other Inefficient Proofs of Existence


We define several new complexity classes of search problems, "between" the classes FP and FNP. These new classes are contained, along with factoring, and the class PLS, in the class TFNP of search problems in FNP that always have a witness. A problem in each of these new classes is defined in terms of an implicitly given, exponentially large graph. The existence of the solution sought is established via a simple graph-theoretic argument with an inefficiently constructive proof; for example, PLS can be thought of as corresponding to the lemma "every dag has a.sink." The new classes are based on lemmata such as "every graph has an even number of odd-degree nodes." They contain several important problems for which no polynomial time algorithm is presently known, including the computational versions of Sperner's lemma, Brouwer's fixpoint theorem, Chevalley's theorem, and the Borsuk-Ulam theorem, the linear complementarity problem for P-matrices, finding a mixed equilibrium in a non-zero sum game, finding a second Hamilton circuit in a Hamiltonian cubic graph, a second Hamiltonian decomposition in a quartic graph, and others. Some of these problems are shown to be complete.

DOI: 10.1016/S0022-0000(05)80063-7

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