[FOM] If "NP is not in P/poly" is barely true, then it is unprovable
Timothy Y. Chow
tchow at alum.mit.edu
Sun Oct 5 21:33:21 EDT 2008
I wrote:
> (*) NP is not contained in P/poly.
>
>Suppose that (*) is indeed true, but only "barely true," i.e., there
>exists some function f(n) that is just barely superpolynomial, such that
>there exist Boolean circuits of size f(n) that correctly solve an
>NP-complete problem. Then the promised "simple observation" is that
>(*) is then unprovable.
Scott Aaronson pointed out to me that this observation is made in a 1991
technical report by Ben-David and Halevi, "On the independence of P versus
NP." I had heard of this paper before but had never read it. See
http://www.cs.technion.ac.il/~shai/ph.ps.gz
or look it up on CiteSeer. For some strange and annoying reason the pages
in the electronic version of this paper appear in reverse order. Anyway,
if we let PA_1 denote PA augmented with all true Pi^0_1 statements, then
their Theorem 4 states:
PA_1 |- "P != NP" if and only if there exists F_alpha for
alpha < epsilon_0 in the Wainer hierarchy that dominates the
approximation rate of SAT to P.
Because this is an "if and only if," it provides a partial converse to the
observation I made. Roughly speaking, if you have a method for proving
independence from PA that automatically proves independence from PA_1 as
well, then your method will succeed on "P != NP" only if "P != NP" is
barely true. Or turning it around, if you think that "P != NP" is more
than barely true and you suspect it is independent of PA, then you'll have
to come up with an independence proof that doesn't generalize to PA_1.
Tim
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