I'm looking at a special version of SAT in which each clause has exactly $n/2$ literals, where $n$ is the number of variables. Can we prove NP-completeness of SAT in this case?

I tried reducing 3-SAT to it by expanding, but this introduces $2^{k-3}$ extra clauses per original 3-SAT clause, hence the reduction is not polynomial when $k=n/2$. Any ideas?

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Can you share the context where you encountered this question? Can you credit the source? $\endgroup$
    – D.W.
    Commented Jan 9, 2021 at 8:49
  • $\begingroup$ I suggest you work on how to reduce 3SAT to 4SAT (where every clause has exactly 4 variables). $\endgroup$
    – D.W.
    Commented Jan 9, 2021 at 8:50
  • $\begingroup$ I'm the source.. :-) 3-SAT to 4-SAT is easy. For each clause c just expand it to (c+v)(c+v'), where v is a new variable. This also works for any constant k like 5SAT, 6SAT, etc... But the method breaks down when k >> logn, like in this case where k=n/2 (I also pointed to this in my initial post). $\endgroup$
    – dda
    Commented Jan 9, 2021 at 10:01

1 Answer 1


Your problem is actually in P. First of all, you can assume that no clause contains both a variable and its negation, since such clauses are always satisfied. Suppose that the instance contains $m$ clauses. Then a random assignment will falsify your formula with probability $m/2^{n/2}$. If $m < 2^{n/2}$, then this means that your formula is satisfiable. Otherwise, the input is of size at least $2^{n/2}$, and so you can go over all $2^n$ truth assignments in polynomial time.

  • $\begingroup$ By the same argument, doesn't that mean that for any $k=\omega(logn)$, k-SAT is P? $\endgroup$
    – dda
    Commented Jan 9, 2021 at 13:37
  • $\begingroup$ Not quite. You need $k$ to be linear in $n$. This gap is where ETH should come in. $\endgroup$ Commented Jan 9, 2021 at 14:56
  • $\begingroup$ ETH?? Anyway, I was referring to the fact that if the number of clauses is poly(n) and $k=\omega(logn)$, then by the first part of your argument the formula is satisfiable... To rephrase the original post, for which values of k (other than the usual k=3,4,..), the problem is NP-complete? Any pointers/ideas? Thanks again! $\endgroup$
    – dda
    Commented Jan 9, 2021 at 16:32
  • $\begingroup$ Exponential time hypothesis. The first part of my argument depends on their being relatively few clauses. $\endgroup$ Commented Jan 9, 2021 at 16:33

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