Extremely Deep Proofs

Noah Fleming, Toniann Pitassi, Robert Robere, Mark Braverman
We further the study of supercritical tradeoffs in proof and circuit complexity, which is a type of tradeoff between complexity parameters where restricting one complexity parameter forces another to exceed its worst-case upper bound. In particular, we prove a new family of supercritical tradeoffs between depth and size for Resolution, Res(k), and Cutting Planes proofs. For each of these proof systems we construct, for each c ≤ n^{1-ε}, a formula with n^{O(c)} clauses and n variables that has a
more » ... proof of size n^{O(c)} but in which any proof of size no more than roughly exponential in n^{1-ε}/c must necessarily have depth ≈ n^c. By setting c = o(n^{1-ε}) we therefore obtain exponential lower bounds on proof depth; this far exceeds the trivial worst-case upper bound of n. In doing so we give a simplified proof of a supercritical depth/width tradeoff for tree-like Resolution from [Alexander A. Razborov, 2016]. Finally, we outline several conjectures that would imply similar supercritical tradeoffs between size and depth in circuit complexity via lifting theorems.
doi:10.4230/lipics.itcs.2022.70 fatcat:5ghm6psgx5glnfii7sh3gbulti