Problem  Given a Turing machine $M$ which has known runtime ${O}(g(n))$ with respect to input length $n$, is the runtime of $M \in {O}(f(n))$?

Is the above problem decidable for some nontrivial pairs of $g$ and $f$?A solution is trivial if $g(n) \in O(f(n))$.

This is related to the problem Are runtime bounds in P decidable? (answer: no). One can derive from Viola's answer that if $f(n)\not \in o(n)$ and $f(n)\not \in O(g(n))$ then the problem is undecidable.

The requirement that $f(n)\not \in o(n)$ is because the $M'$ in Viola's proof need $O(n)$ time to find its input size. Thus Viola's proof could not work when $f(n)=1$.

It would be interesting if we can decide on the run time of sublinear time algorithms. A special case is when we have arbitrary $g(n)$ and $f(n)=1$.

  • $\begingroup$ Since the question you link to was very well received on CSTheory, you might want to flag for migration later. $\endgroup$
    – Juho
    Jun 9, 2013 at 14:06

1 Answer 1


Here are a few remarks which could be relevant:

  1. Kobayashi proved that a TM running in time $o(n\log n)$ accepts a regular language (and so runs in time $O(n)$); recently this has been extended to non-deterministic TMs (Tadaki, Yamakami and Lin).
  2. Machines running in time $o(n)$ actually run in constant time (consider any $n$ for which the running time is less than $n$; adding characters to the end doesn't affect the TM).
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ it is worth pointing out that 1. holds for one-tape TMs only $\endgroup$ Jun 9, 2013 at 6:29

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