Characterizing Derandomization Through Hardness of Levin-Kolmogorov Complexity

Authors Yanyi Liu, Rafael Pass

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Yanyi Liu
  • Cornell Tech, New York, NY, USA
Rafael Pass
  • Cornell Tech, New York, NY, USA
  • Tel-Aviv University, Israel


We thank the anonymous reviewers for many helpful comments, and most notably for making us aware of [Hirahara, 2020].

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Yanyi Liu and Rafael Pass. Characterizing Derandomization Through Hardness of Levin-Kolmogorov Complexity. In 37th Computational Complexity Conference (CCC 2022). Leibniz International Proceedings in Informatics (LIPIcs), Volume 234, pp. 35:1-35:17, Schloss Dagstuhl – Leibniz-Zentrum für Informatik (2022)


A central open problem in complexity theory concerns the question of whether all efficient randomized algorithms can be simulated by efficient deterministic algorithms. We consider this problem in the context of promise problems (i.e,. the prBPP v.s. prP problem) and show that for all sufficiently large constants c, the following are equivalent: - prBPP = prP. - For every BPTIME(n^c) algorithm M, and every sufficiently long z ∈ {0,1}ⁿ, there exists some x ∈ {0,1}ⁿ such that M fails to decide whether Kt(x∣z) is "very large" (≥ n-1) or "very small" (≤ O(log n)). where Kt(x∣z) denotes the Levin-Kolmogorov complexity of x conditioned on z. As far as we are aware, this yields the first full characterization of when prBPP = prP through the hardness of some class of problems. Previous hardness assumptions used for derandomization only provide a one-sided implication.

Subject Classification

ACM Subject Classification
  • Theory of computation → Pseudorandomness and derandomization
  • Derandomization
  • Kolmogorov Complexity
  • Hitting Set Generators


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