I have a simple looking question. What is the most efficient conversion of $\sum_{i=1}^n x_i = y$ to 3-sat? Here $x_i$ is either $1$ or $0$ and $y$ is some positive integer.

Can you do better than making a SATISFIABILITY instance with $\binom{n}{y}$ clauses, each of which is the conjunction of $y$ positive literals and $n-y$ negative literals and then just feeding the whole thing into the Tseitin transform?

  • $\begingroup$ Have you tried anything? Efficient in what sense? $\endgroup$
    – Juho
    Commented Sep 27, 2013 at 13:59
  • $\begingroup$ @Juho A naive method would make $\binom{n}{y}$ clauses with $y$ positive literals and $n-y$ negative literals each I was thinking. This is rather large as a function of $n$. $\endgroup$
    – Simd
    Commented Sep 27, 2013 at 14:02
  • $\begingroup$ The sizes I gave are before the conversion into 3-sat of course which will presumably expand things again. $\endgroup$
    – Simd
    Commented Sep 27, 2013 at 14:11
  • $\begingroup$ A closely related question has been posted on CSTheory. $\endgroup$
    – D.W.
    Commented Oct 2, 2013 at 2:15

2 Answers 2


Many better techniques for enforcing cardinality constraints are described in this answer. For the special case $y=1$, see also Encoding 1-out-of-n constraint for SAT solvers. Read those links; they suggest more efficient conversions, though I'm not aware of any reason to expect that they are necessarily optimal, so they don't answer your question about the most efficient conversion.

  • $\begingroup$ Thank you. The " Encoding 1-out-of-n constraint" link looks very useful for that problem. I am still working through the other interesting links but I am not sure they fully answer my question. $\endgroup$
    – Simd
    Commented Sep 29, 2013 at 14:42

Hint: Use a circuit for computing $\sum_{i=1}^n x_i$. Don't forget you're allowed to add variables!

  • $\begingroup$ Would you mind expanding this answer a bit please? $\endgroup$
    – Simd
    Commented Sep 27, 2013 at 18:03
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Well, it's your exercise. You can look up the proof of Cook's theorem (along with the reduction from SAT to 3SAT), which explains how to convert a circuit to a SAT instance. $\endgroup$ Commented Sep 27, 2013 at 21:16

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