CSC 341 (Fall 2021)

Reading: The Cook-Levine Theorem

The Cook-Levine Theorem

Pragmatically, we show that problems are NP-complete by reduction from a known NP-complete problem. If we know that a problem B is (poly-time) reducible from a problem A (\(A \leq_p B\)), then we know that \(B\) is as hard as \(A\). Furthermore, if \(A\) is NP-complete, then we know that \(B\) is reducible from any other problem \(X\) in NP by first reducing \(X\) to \(A\) and then \(A\) to \(B\).

However, how do we establish the first NP-complete problem? This is the focus of the Cook-Levine theorem which claims that:

\[ \mathsf{SAT} = \\{ \phi \mid \text{ $\phi$ is a satisfiable boolean formula } \\}. \]

is NP-complete.

The proof is fundamentally easy to understand—circuits are ultimately boolean formula and we can thus use such formulae to represent general computation—but it is extremely detail-oriented and touches on all aspects of the formal definition of Turing machine we discussed prior to the first exam. Hence we will spend a substantial amount of time ensuring that we understand the proof in depth, so that we have a clear foundation to work from in understanding NP-completeness.


Reading Problem (Windows)

The presentation of Cook-Levine in Sipser relies heavily on the notion of “window”.

  1. Windows are used in the \(\phi_{\text{move}}\) formula of the proof. What does this boolean formula capture?
  2. Suppose that we are translating the Turing machine \(M_1\) from figure 3.10 of the text (pp. 173 in the third edition) to a boolean formula according to Cook-Levine. Suppose that the current configuration \(C_i\) under consideration is \("xxq_{3}10\\#xx00"\). (Recall that a configuration represents the current contents of the tape, the current state, and the position of the tape head.) Describe (a) a legal window involving configurations \(C_i\) and the next configuration \(C_{i+1}\) and a (b) illegal window involving these configurations.