Trajectories in Phase Diagrams, Growth Processes, and Computational Complexity: How Search Algorithms Solve the 3-Satisfiability Problem

Simona Cocco, Rémi Monasson
2001 Physical Review Letters  
Most decision and optimization problems encountered in practice fall into one of two categories with respect to any particular solving method or algorithm: either the problem is solved quickly (easy) or else demands an impractically long computational effort (hard). Recent investigations on model classes of problems have shown that some global parameters, such as the ratio between the constraints to be satisfied and the adjustable variables, are good predictors of problem hardness and,
more » ... dness and, moreover, have an effect analogous to thermodynamical parameters, e.g. temperature, in predicting phases in condensed matter physics [Monasson et al., Nature 400 (1999) 133-137]. Here we show that changes in the values of such parameters can be tracked during a run of the algorithm defining a trajectory through the parameter space. Focusing on 3-Satisfiability, a recognized representative of hard problems, we analyze trajectories generated by search algorithms using growth processes statistical physics. These trajectories can cross well defined phases, corresponding to domains of easy or hard instances, and allow to successfully predict the times of resolution.
doi:10.1103/physrevlett.86.1654 pmid:11290216 fatcat:n7fot2as4rbpff7a2bjqslxatu