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The smoothing function of a boolean function with respect to one of its variables is the disjunction of its cofactors. For example given a Boolean function F(a,b,c) the cofactors with respect to a are F(0,b,c) and F(1,b,c), the smoothing function with respect to a therefore is G(b,c) = F(0,b,c) + F(1,b,c).

Now, given a circuit for F, one simple method for creating the circuit for G is to make two copies of the circuit for F, hardwire the inputs for a as 0 and 1 in the two circuits respectively and then OR the outputs. However this will double the number of gates needed. If one needs to do this for several variables, then the size of the resulting circuit grows exponentially in the number of variables removed. What bothers me the most about this is that we are creating simpler functions (as judged by the number of variables and consequently the size of the truth table) with increasing number of gates. This leads me to think that maybe there is a well known way for creating a circuit for the smoothing function using fewer gates than in the original circuit.

For the purpose of this question, let us assume that the truth tables are too big to enumerate and the functions under consideration are not linear.

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Suppose that we are substituting variable $x$.

You will have a lot of zeroes and ones in the circuit, so a simple simplification function should help a lot. Additionally a potentially large part of your circuit unrelated to $x$ might be duplicated, so I would suggest preventing its duplication in the first place.

First I would mark any inputs (including the constants $0$ and $1$) to the circuit that aren't $x$ as unrelated. Second, any gate that only has unrelated inputs is marked as unrelated itself. This is done repeatedly until the result is stable. Then, any unrelated subcircuit which has a related gate as parent is removed and replaced with a temporary variable (e.g. $t_1, t_2,$ etc) and it is for each temporary variable what circuit it corresponded to.

Then you should apply your smoothing function definition and minimize recursively using $S$, applying matching with priority from top to bottom:

$$\begin{align} S(0) &= 0\\ S(1) &= 1\\ S(\neg 0) &= 1\\ S(\neg 1) &= 0\\ S(a + b) &= \begin{cases} 1 & S(a) = 1 \vee S(b) = 1\\ 0 & S(a) = 0 \wedge S(b) = 0\\ S(a) & S(b) = 0\\ S(b) & S(a) = 0\\ S(a) & S(a) = S(b)\\ S(a) + S(b)&S(a) < S(b)\\ S(b) + S(a)&\text{otherwise} \end{cases}\\ S(a \cdot b) &=\begin{cases} 1 & S(a) = 1 \wedge S(b) = 1\\ 0 & S(a) = 0 \vee S(b) = 0\\ S(a) & S(b) = 1\\ S(b) & S(a) = 1\\ S(a) & S(a) = S(b)\\ S(a) \cdot S(b)& S(a) < S(b)\\ S(b) \cdot S(a)& \text{otherwise}\\ \end{cases}\\ S(\neg \neg a) &= S(a)\\ S(\neg a) &= \neg S(a)\\ S(a) &= a\end{align}$$

Note that all comparisons here are done simply on the symbolic formulas, with comparison done in any consistent order (such as an arbitrary lexicographic order). This minimization isn't very advanced, but runs very fast and fully eliminates any constants unless the entire circuit is constant. If your primitive gates aren't conjunction and disjunction you'll need a different minimization function, but I think the concept is clear.

After minimization is done you can add back the $t_1, t_2,$etc circuits and connect wherever they occur.


Practical algorithms aside, I don't believe that your intuition of the circuit becoming simpler is correct when truth tables are too large to be enumerated.

Let's do a napkin math calculation. Suppose you have 64 inputs and consider a 'reasonable' useful circuit any circuit with $\leq 10000$ binary gates, then there are $4\sum_{g=0}^{10000}\sum_{k=0}^{g} (64+k)^2$ possible circuits, assuming $4$ different gate types. That's approximately $2^{52}$ possible reasonably sized circuits.

There are $2^{2^{64}}$ possible truth tables. We haven't even scratched the surface of the surface of all possible circuits. There is plenty of space for combinations of reasonable circuits to blow up exponentially in size and I don't see reason to believe why they wouldn't - there's plenty of domain left to blow up into.

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