PSPACE-Completeness of Sliding-Block Puzzles and Other Problems through the Nondeterministic Constraint Logic Model of Computation [article]

Robert A. Hearn, Erik D. Demaine
<span title="2004-11-11">2004</span> <i > arXiv </i> &nbsp; <span class="release-stage" >pre-print</span>
We present a nondeterministic model of computation based on reversing edge directions in weighted directed graphs with minimum in-flow constraints on vertices. Deciding whether this simple graph model can be manipulated in order to reverse the direction of a particular edge is shown to be PSPACE-complete by a reduction from Quantified Boolean Formulas. We prove this result in a variety of special cases including planar graphs and highly restricted vertex configurations, some of which correspond
more &raquo; ... to a kind of passive constraint logic. Our framework is inspired by (and indeed a generalization of) the "Generalized Rush Hour Logic" developed by Flake and Baum. We illustrate the importance of our model of computation by giving simple reductions to show that several motion-planning problems are PSPACE-hard. Our main result along these lines is that classic unrestricted sliding-block puzzles are PSPACE-hard, even if the pieces are restricted to be all dominoes (1x2 blocks) and the goal is simply to move a particular piece. No prior complexity results were known about these puzzles. This result can be seen as a strengthening of the existing result that the restricted Rush Hour puzzles are PSPACE-complete, of which we also give a simpler proof. Finally, we strengthen the existing result that the pushing-blocks puzzle Sokoban is PSPACE-complete, by showing that it is PSPACE-complete even if no barriers are allowed.
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