A language $L$ belongs to $\mathbf{IP}$ if there exists $V,P$ such that for all $Q$, $w$, $$w\in L\Rightarrow Pr[V\leftrightarrow P\text{ accepts }w]\geq2/3$$ $$w\notin L\Rightarrow Pr[V\leftrightarrow Q\text{ accepts }w]\leq1/3$$

I am trying to understand the claim that changing the $1/3$ to $0$ for the $w \notin L$ case is equivalent to having a deterministic verifier, thus reducing the class to $\mathbf{NP}$. Is this because, in this case, we could rig all of the $V$'s interactions with $P$ so that whenever $Pr[V\leftrightarrow P\text{ accepts }w]>0$, it now determinstically accepts?

If this is correct, then why can't we do a similar thing for the hypothetical situation where the $2/3$ is replaced by a $1$ (apparently doing this does not change $\mathbf{IP}$)? My intuition is that we can't make a similar modification because it would require modifying $V$'s behaviour for all $Q$. But my thoughts are bit fuzzy here...

Can someone please help clarify?


1 Answer 1


Suppose you have a (randomized) verifier $V$ such that, for all $Q,w$,

$$\begin{align*} w\in L &\implies \Pr[V\leftrightarrow P\text{ accepts }w]\geq2/3\\ w\notin L &\implies \Pr[V\leftrightarrow Q\text{ accepts }w]= 0. \end{align*}$$

Since $P$ is one possible value of $Q$, it follows that

$$w\notin L \implies \Pr[V\leftrightarrow P\text{ accepts }w]= 0.$$

This means that for all $w \notin L$, there is no choice of random bits such that $V\leftrightarrow P$ accepts $w$, while for all $w \in L$, there is a choice of random bits such that $V\leftrightarrow P$ accepts $w$.

This gives you a certificate for the claim that $w \in L$: namely, the random bits used during some accepting execution of $V \leftrightarrow P$ on $w$. By the above arguments, if $w \in L$, such a certificate is guaranteed to exist, whereas if $w \notin L$, no such certificate exists. $V \leftrightarrow P$ can be used as a verifier to check the certificate. Since $V \leftrightarrow P$ runs in polynomial time, we have a polynomial-sized certificate and a polynomial-time verifier for $L$, so it follows that $L$ is in NP.

This also helps answer your second question. If you change the $2/3$ to $1$ but don't change the $1/3$ to $0$, the above argument doesn't go through: you can't conclude that there is no certificate for $w \notin L$, so you no longer have a certificate and verifier for $L$.

  • $\begingroup$ Don't we still need to specify how $V$ interacts with all other $Q$ that aren't $P$? I suppose we can just set $V$ to determinstically output "reject" regardless of the input if $Q \ne P$. But how does $V$ "know" wether or not it is interacting with $P$? $\endgroup$
    – theQman
    Commented Mar 17, 2019 at 0:53
  • $\begingroup$ @theQman, no. You asked for a proof that $L \in NP$. I gave you such a proof. That doesn't require specifying anything about $V$. $V$ is whatever it is (the specification of $V$ presumably already implies how it behaves). I have proven that if the first two conditions in my answer hold of $V,P$, then $L \in NP$. Nothing else needs to be assumed or specified about $V$. $\endgroup$
    – D.W.
    Commented Mar 17, 2019 at 5:12
  • $\begingroup$ If $V$ always deterministically outputs "reject", regardless of the input or messages it receives, then the first condition won't hold; instead, you'll have $\Pr[V\leftrightarrow P\text{ accepts }w]=0$. Note that $V$ is not "told" whether it is interacting with $P$ or $Q$; it just receives messages from someone, and the algorithm specifies how $V$ should reply and whether $V$ should accept or reject. $\endgroup$
    – D.W.
    Commented Mar 17, 2019 at 5:13

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