Rahul Santhanam
Edinburgh
Three Roads to Satisfiability
The Satisfiability problem is a fundamental problem in computer
science, with applications to verification and testing, planning,
automated theorem proving, optimization etc. A classical result of
Stephen Cook states that Satisfiability is NP-complete and therefore
unlikely to be solvable in polynomial time, but this is by no means
the end of the story. There have been multiple research programs to
understand the hardness of Satisfiability in a deeper way, including
(1) the theory of exact algorithms, where the aim is to design
algorithms for Satisfiability which beat brute force search (2) proof
complexity, where the aim is to find short proofs for tautologies in
standard proof systems, or else to show there are no short proofs (3)
the average-case theory of Satisfiability, which aims to solve the
problem quickly on random instances.
I will give a whistlestop tour of these areas, and speculate about how
increased dialogue between these areas might be key to further
progress.