# Reduce EXACT 3-SET COVER to a Crossword Puzzle

I have an assignment where I have to prove that solving a crossword puzzle is an $$NP$$-complete problem by reducing from EXACT 3-SET COVER. I have more or less given up at this point. If anyone could give me a hint or know where to find the proof, it would be much appreciated.

Problem: [$${\bf CrossWordPuzzleConstruction}$$]

Input: Given are an alphabet $$\Sigma$$ not containing the symbols "blank" or "#", a non-empty set of strings $$S=\{s_1,\dots,s_m\}$$ over $$\Sigma$$, and an $$n\times n$$ matrix $$A$$ for a non-negative integer $$n$$. The entries in $$A$$ are either "blank" or "#".

Output: YES if the blank entries in $$A$$ can be filled with letters from $$\Sigma$$ in such a way that the result is a crossword puzzle with strings from $$S$$. That is, every maximal horizontal or vertical sequence in $$A$$ consisting of letters from $$\Sigma$$ is a string from $$S$$ when read left-to-right respectively downwards. The same string may occur more than once.

We call the problem $${\bf CPC}$$ for short.

Example: $$\Sigma=\{a,b,c\}$$, $$S=\{aa,bb,cac,ab,cab,ca,a,ac,bba,aab,bab\}$$, The answer to this input is YES as the following solution shows: Problem: [$${\bf ExactThreeCover}$$]

Input: The set $$X=\{1,2,\dots,n\}$$ where $$n=3q$$, $$q\geq1$$, and a collection $$\mathcal{C}=\{C_1,C_2,\dots,C_m\}$$ of subsets of $$X$$ of sixe $$3$$. That is, for $$i\in\{1,\dots,m\}$$, we have $$C_i\subseteq X$$ and $$|C_i|=3$$.

Output: YES if there exists a set $$\mathcal{A}\subseteq\mathcal{C}$$ such that the elements of $$\mathcal{A}$$ are a partition of $$X$$, i.e., $$\cup_{C_i\in \mathcal{A}}=X$$ and $$C_i\cap C_j=\emptyset$$ for $$C_i,C_j\in\mathcal{A}$$ and $$i\neq j$$.

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– Raphael
Nov 2, 2018 at 13:46
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– Raphael
Nov 2, 2018 at 13:46

Since you are so interested in solving this assignment to hand in and be applaused by the whole class.

Reduce from X3C (Exact 3-Set Cover) as required.

We will construct a table as follows:

The leftmost column will be forced to be (solely by its maximum length)

$$\star\\ \star\\ \star\\ 1_{row}\\ \star\\ \star\\ \star\\ \star\\ \star\\ 2_{row}\\ \star\\ \star\\ \star\\ \star\\ \star\\ 3_{row}\\ \dots$$

The uppermost row will contain the solution (a subcollection of $$3$$-sets).

$$\#\#\#1_{col}\star\star\star\star2_{col}\star\star\star\star3_{col}\#\#\dots\#\#\#$$ to denote that we choose a $$3$$-set that contains $$1$$, $$2$$ and $$3$$.

Now, all that we need is to make sure that our solution which appear in the uppermost row is feasible. It means that for each $$i_{row}$$, if we "beam" from its position (in the first column) to the right, we will meet $$i_{col}$$ exactly once (in fact, we only need to assure at most once).

To guarantee this, we create zig-zag tunnel like this:

- ---
| | |
| | |
---- --- ...

To be able to cross a different column item, we add these words $$i_{row}i_{row}$$ where $$$$ is a single symbol, for every $$i\neq j$$. And, similarly, for the column item, these words $$j_{col}j_{col}$$

To be able to meet the same column item (and never again), we add these words $$i_{row}i_{met}$$, for all $$i$$. Similarly, for the column item, these words $$i_{col}i_{col}$$.

Note that, $$i_{met}$$ are deemed to belong to the rows only.

To be able, to continue after crossing the same column item, and never meets same column item again, we add these words $$i_{met}i_{met}$$, for every $$i\neq j$$. And, similarly, for the column item, $$j_{col}j_{col}$$.

Lastly, to be able to go through the tunnel, add all these word $$x\star x$$ for all symbol $$x$$ that appears so far.

• Thanks, I greatly appreciate your answer and quick response. Thank you very much for the time and effort you have put into my question. Nov 2, 2018 at 21:07

A reduction from PLANAR 3-SAT with bounded occurrences is more viable.

The upper bound of occurrences should be $$3$$ for each variables $$x_i$$ (two positive and one negative OR two negative and one negative).

• I am aware that there might be easier reductions, but the assignment states that I have to use EXACT 3-SET COVER. But thanks for the tip anyway. Nov 1, 2018 at 14:18
• Which book is this assignment contained in? Nov 2, 2018 at 9:10
• It is not from a book it's for a school project. Nov 2, 2018 at 11:47
• If so, then a link to your professor's class webpage would give more materials on solving this problem. Since, the taught-in-class techniques could hint a quick solution to homework assignment. Nov 2, 2018 at 11:50
• All the information can be found in a note called "Lecture Notes Computationally Hard Problems Paul Fischer, Carsten Witt DTU Compute, Danmarks Tekniske Universitet", but I think it is only available on my school's intranet, and I am not allowed to hand it out to you. Nov 2, 2018 at 11:59