It occurred to many that in all the $\textbf{NP}$-completeness proofs I've read (that I can remember), it's always trivial to show that a problem is in $\textbf{NP}$, and showing that it is $\textbf{NP}$-hard is the... hard part. What $\textbf{NP}$-complete problems are these whose polynomial-time verifiers are highly non-trivial?

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    $\begingroup$ Not NP-complete, but showing membership in NP of testing whether a number is prime is quite non-trivial (rather than showing that it's a composite, which is trivial). The problem is of course known to be in P by now, but still, this is an intriguing verifier. $\endgroup$
    – Shaull
    Jun 19 '14 at 10:18
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    $\begingroup$ Proving the "PRIME" is in NP was definitely a lot harder than proving that most NP-complete problems are in NP. $\endgroup$
    – gnasher729
    Jun 19 '14 at 17:12
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    $\begingroup$ See also the more general question cstheory.stackexchange.com/q/21106/109 over at CS.SE. $\endgroup$ Jun 22 '14 at 20:39

There are at least four such $NP$-complete problems listed in the appendix of Garey and Johnson's COMPUTERS AND INTRACTABILITY: A Guide to the Theory of NP-Completeness.


INSTANCE: Sequences $A_i = \langle (a_i[1],b_i[1]), ..., (a_i[k],b_i[k]) \rangle,\ 1 \leqslant i \leqslant m,$ of pairs of integers, with each $b_i[j] \geqslant 0,$ and an integer $N$.

QUESTION: Is $\displaystyle \prod_{i=1}^m \left( \displaystyle\sum_{j=1}^k a_i[j] \cdot z^{b_i[j]} \right)$ not divisible by $z^N - 1$?

Reference: [Plaisted, 1977a], [Plaisted, 1977b]. Transformation from 3SAT. Proof of membership in NP is non-trivial and appears in the second reference.

The other three I found in the appendix are:

  • $\begingroup$ Thanks! I have this book so I'll make sure to check those out. $\endgroup$
    – gardenhead
    Jun 22 '14 at 23:55
  • $\begingroup$ I am a bit unclear regarding this problem: (1) Am I correct in interpreting z is a variable that can take any integer value (just like an ordinary linear/quadratic equation). (2) Thus, the non-divisibility would be equivalent o stating that: "for no integer value of z equation A is divisible by B"? $\endgroup$ May 11 '17 at 18:01
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    $\begingroup$ What I gathered from skimming the first couple pages of the 1977a paper is that $z$ is a quantity related to the number of zeroes of the polynomial that's part of the input. For more than that, you'll have to slog through the paper, I'm afraid. $\endgroup$
    – Kyle Jones
    May 11 '17 at 18:11

Here is a problem from the database theory, more specifically, from the serializability theory.

In Serializability by Locking (Page 237), it says that

Regarding the complexity of safety, Papadimitriou et al. [14] showed that it is $\textrm{NP}$-hard to test if a transaction system is not $SSR$-safe, and conjectured that the problem is $\textrm{NP}$. From Theorem 3 (In this paper), it follows that this is true.

The $SSR$-safe problem can be found in the paper "Some Computational Problems Related to Database Concurrency Control" by Papadimitriou et al. Unfortunately, I have no access to it.


For me, Integer Linear Programming (and the related Quantifier Free Presburger Arithmetic) are in this class.

A naive approach to an $n$-dimensional ILP problem is to iterate through all length $n$ vectors of integers. But this is an unbounded process.

You have to use some number theory to prove that there is a polynomial upper bound on the size of solutions, meaning that if a solution exists, there is always a polynomially-sized solution, which acts as a certificate.

More information can be found in the answer to a question I asked a while back.


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