# Linear logic proof games and optimization

Bulletin of Symbolic Logic 2 (3):322-338 (1996)

# Abstract

§ 1. Introduction. Perhaps the most surprising recent development in complexity theory is the discovery that the class NP can be characterized using a form of randomized proof checker that only examines a constant number of bits of the “proof” that a string is in a language [6, 5, 31, 3, 4]. More specifically, writing ∣x∣ for the length of a string x, a language L in the class NP of languages recognizable in Nondeterministic polynomial time is traditionally given by a polynomial p and a polynomial-time predicate P such that a string x is in L iff there is some string y satisfying P, where ∣y∣ ≤ p. Intuitively, we can think of a string y as a possible proof that x ϵ L, with the predicate P some kind of proof checker that distinguishes good proofs from bad ones. A string x is therefore in a language L ϵ NP if there is a short proof that x ϵ L, and not in L otherwise. The surprising discovery is that the deterministic proof checker that reads the entire input and proof can be replaced by a probabilistic verifier that on input x and possible proof y, where y is presented in a certain way, flips at most O coins and reads at most a constant number of bits of x and y. Obviously, a probabilistic verifier that does not read the whole proof will sometimes make mistakes. However, the surprising and essentially non-intuitive mathematical fact is that for each language L in NP, it is possible to find a polynomial q and verifier V flipping a logarithmic number of coins and reading a constant number of bits such that, for any x ϵ L, there exists y with ∣y∣ ≤ q and with V accepting with probability 1 and, for x ∉ L, there is no y with ∣y∣ ≤ q and with V accepting with probability ≥ 1/4. This idea canalsobeextended to PSPACE [10, 9], using a game that alternates between two players instead of a proof presented by a “single player.”

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