On Polynomially Many Queries to NP or QMA Oracles

Authors Sevag Gharibian , Dorian Rudolph

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Sevag Gharibian
  • Department of Computer Science and Institute for Photonic Quantum Systems (PhoQS), Paderborn University, Germany
Dorian Rudolph
  • Department of Computer Science and Institute for Photonic Quantum Systems (PhoQS), Paderborn University, Germany


We thank Eric Allender, Johannes Bausch, Stephen Piddock, James Watson, and Justin Yirka for helpful discussions.

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Sevag Gharibian and Dorian Rudolph. On Polynomially Many Queries to NP or QMA Oracles. In 13th Innovations in Theoretical Computer Science Conference (ITCS 2022). Leibniz International Proceedings in Informatics (LIPIcs), Volume 215, pp. 75:1-75:27, Schloss Dagstuhl – Leibniz-Zentrum für Informatik (2022)


We study the complexity of problems solvable in deterministic polynomial time with access to an NP or Quantum Merlin-Arthur (QMA)-oracle, such as P^NP and P^QMA, respectively. The former allows one to classify problems more finely than the Polynomial-Time Hierarchy (PH), whereas the latter characterizes physically motivated problems such as Approximate Simulation (APX-SIM) [Ambainis, CCC 2014]. In this area, a central role has been played by the classes P^NP[log] and P^QMA[log], defined identically to P^NP and P^QMA, except that only logarithmically many oracle queries are allowed. Here, [Gottlob, FOCS 1993] showed that if the adaptive queries made by a P^NP machine have a "query graph" which is a tree, then this computation can be simulated in P^NP[log]. In this work, we first show that for any verification class C ∈ {NP, MA, QCMA, QMA, QMA(2), NEXP, QMA_exp}, any P^C machine with a query graph of "separator number" s can be simulated using deterministic time exp(slog n) and slog n queries to a C-oracle. When s ∈ O(1) (which includes the case of O(1)-treewidth, and thus also of trees), this gives an upper bound of P^C[log], and when s ∈ O(log^k(n)), this yields bound QP^{C[log^{k+1}]} (QP meaning quasi-polynomial time). We next show how to combine Gottlob’s "admissible-weighting function" framework with the "flag-qubit" framework of [Watson, Bausch, Gharibian, 2020], obtaining a unified approach for embedding P^C computations directly into APX-SIM instances in a black-box fashion. Finally, we formalize a simple no-go statement about polynomials (c.f. [Krentel, STOC 1986]): Given a multi-linear polynomial p specified via an arithmetic circuit, if one can "weakly compress" p so that its optimal value requires m bits to represent, then P^NP can be decided with only m queries to an NP-oracle.

Subject Classification

ACM Subject Classification
  • Theory of computation → Quantum complexity theory
  • Theory of computation → Complexity classes
  • admissible weighting function
  • oracle complexity class
  • quantum complexity theory
  • Quantum Merlin Arthur (QMA)
  • simulation of local measurement


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