Decision Problems in Information Theory

Authors Mahmoud Abo Khamis, Phokion G. Kolaitis, Hung Q. Ngo, Dan Suciu

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Author Details

Mahmoud Abo Khamis
  • relationalAI, Berkeley, CA, USA
Phokion G. Kolaitis
  • University of California, Santa Cruz, CA, USA
  • IBM Research - Almaden, CA, USA
Hung Q. Ngo
  • relationalAI, Berkeley, CA, USA
Dan Suciu
  • University of Washington, Seattle, WA, USA


We thank Miika Hannula for several useful pointers to earlier work on the implication problem for conditional independence.

Cite AsGet BibTex

Mahmoud Abo Khamis, Phokion G. Kolaitis, Hung Q. Ngo, and Dan Suciu. Decision Problems in Information Theory. In 47th International Colloquium on Automata, Languages, and Programming (ICALP 2020). Leibniz International Proceedings in Informatics (LIPIcs), Volume 168, pp. 106:1-106:20, Schloss Dagstuhl – Leibniz-Zentrum für Informatik (2020)


Constraints on entropies are considered to be the laws of information theory. Even though the pursuit of their discovery has been a central theme of research in information theory, the algorithmic aspects of constraints on entropies remain largely unexplored. Here, we initiate an investigation of decision problems about constraints on entropies by placing several different such problems into levels of the arithmetical hierarchy. We establish the following results on checking the validity over all almost-entropic functions: first, validity of a Boolean information constraint arising from a monotone Boolean formula is co-recursively enumerable; second, validity of "tight" conditional information constraints is in Π⁰₃. Furthermore, under some restrictions, validity of conditional information constraints "with slack" is in Σ⁰₂, and validity of information inequality constraints involving max is Turing equivalent to validity of information inequality constraints (with no max involved). We also prove that the classical implication problem for conditional independence statements is co-recursively enumerable.

Subject Classification

ACM Subject Classification
  • Mathematics of computing → Information theory
  • Theory of computation → Computability
  • Theory of computation → Complexity classes
  • Information theory
  • decision problems
  • arithmetical hierarchy
  • entropic functions


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