For a NOT gate if $x_1$ is input and $x_2$ is the corresponding output, I see the equivalent CNF (conjunctive normal form) is $(x_1 \lor x_2) \land (\overline x_1 \lor \overline x_2)$.

My expectations was that the CNF should not include $x_2$ as it is the output of the gate. I was rather hoping the formula to be of a form $x_2=F(x_1, b_1, b_2, ...)$ where $b_1$, $b_2$, .. are the boolean constants such that when $x_1$ is zero, the $F(.,.,..)$ would yield true just like the NOT gate.

Can anyone help me understand, how come this CNF including $x_2$ is equivalent to a NOT gate. How to draw a truth table for this CNF form as in what value to assign for $x_2$!


1 Answer 1


Your formula does actually look like $x_2 = F(x_1)$, it's just written with different symbols.

First, we can rewrite the two clauses using implication. Since $(a \to b) \iff (\neg a \lor b)$, we can rewrite the formula as

$$ (\neg x_1 \to x_2) \land (x_2 \to\neg x_1) $$

Now, you can recognize that this is $(a \to b) \land (b \to a)$, which is to say $a \iff b$.

$\iff$ as a boolean operator behaves the same way as $=$; it evaluates to true when its left hand side and right hand side are the same. So your formula is equivalent to

$$ x_2 \iff \neg x_1 $$

Viewing this as a constraint (assuming $x_1$ can be treated as "fixed"), $x_2$ is fixed as $x_2 := \neg x_1 $

  • $\begingroup$ @ Curtis F - This definitely proves that the CNF formula is equivalent to NOT gate. However, my specific confusion is - supposes I've a CNF solver which upon receiving the CNF formula above confirms two sets of satisfying assignments ($x_1$=1, $x_2$=0) and ($x_1$=0, $x_2$=1). This means if I choose to use CNF SAT solver instead of solving NOT gate directly, I'll get two solutions, whereas direct solution will yield only $x_1$=0 as valid assignment. Put another way, typically in a Karp-reduction, we transform input x in a problem A to f(x) in B in polynomial time. Here what is f(x) here ? $\endgroup$
    – KGhatak
    Aug 12, 2019 at 12:45

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