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**Published in:** LIPIcs, Volume 306, 49th International Symposium on Mathematical Foundations of Computer Science (MFCS 2024)

The number of quantifiers needed to express first-order (FO) properties is captured by two-player combinatorial games called multi-structural games. We analyze these games on binary strings with an ordering relation, using a technique we call parallel play, which significantly reduces the number of quantifiers needed in many cases. Ordered structures such as strings have historically been notoriously difficult to analyze in the context of these and similar games. Nevertheless, in this paper, we provide essentially tight bounds on the number of quantifiers needed to characterize different-sized subsets of strings. The results immediately give bounds on the number of quantifiers necessary to define several different classes of Boolean functions. One of our results is analogous to Lupanov’s upper bounds on circuit size and formula size in propositional logic: we show that every Boolean function on n-bit inputs can be defined by a FO sentence having (1+ε)n/log(n) + O(1) quantifiers, and that this is essentially tight. We reduce this number to (1 + ε)log(n) + O(1) when the Boolean function in question is sparse.

Marco Carmosino, Ronald Fagin, Neil Immerman, Phokion G. Kolaitis, Jonathan Lenchner, and Rik Sengupta. On the Number of Quantifiers Needed to Define Boolean Functions. In 49th International Symposium on Mathematical Foundations of Computer Science (MFCS 2024). Leibniz International Proceedings in Informatics (LIPIcs), Volume 306, pp. 34:1-34:16, Schloss Dagstuhl – Leibniz-Zentrum für Informatik (2024)

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@InProceedings{carmosino_et_al:LIPIcs.MFCS.2024.34, author = {Carmosino, Marco and Fagin, Ronald and Immerman, Neil and Kolaitis, Phokion G. and Lenchner, Jonathan and Sengupta, Rik}, title = {{On the Number of Quantifiers Needed to Define Boolean Functions}}, booktitle = {49th International Symposium on Mathematical Foundations of Computer Science (MFCS 2024)}, pages = {34:1--34:16}, series = {Leibniz International Proceedings in Informatics (LIPIcs)}, ISBN = {978-3-95977-335-5}, ISSN = {1868-8969}, year = {2024}, volume = {306}, editor = {Kr\'{a}lovi\v{c}, Rastislav and Ku\v{c}era, Anton{\'\i}n}, publisher = {Schloss Dagstuhl -- Leibniz-Zentrum f{\"u}r Informatik}, address = {Dagstuhl, Germany}, URL = {https://drops.dagstuhl.de/entities/document/10.4230/LIPIcs.MFCS.2024.34}, URN = {urn:nbn:de:0030-drops-205907}, doi = {10.4230/LIPIcs.MFCS.2024.34}, annote = {Keywords: logic, combinatorial games, Boolean functions, quantifier number} }

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**Published in:** LIPIcs, Volume 241, 47th International Symposium on Mathematical Foundations of Computer Science (MFCS 2022)

In 1981, Neil Immerman described a two-player game, which he called the "separability game" [Neil Immerman, 1981], that captures the number of quantifiers needed to describe a property in first-order logic. Immerman’s paper laid the groundwork for studying the number of quantifiers needed to express properties in first-order logic, but the game seemed to be too complicated to study, and the arguments of the paper almost exclusively used quantifier rank as a lower bound on the total number of quantifiers. However, last year Fagin, Lenchner, Regan and Vyas [Fagin et al., 2021] rediscovered the game, provided some tools for analyzing them, and showed how to utilize them to characterize the number of quantifiers needed to express linear orders of different sizes. In this paper, we push forward in the study of number of quantifiers as a bona fide complexity measure by establishing several new results. First we carefully distinguish minimum number of quantifiers from the more usual descriptive complexity measures, minimum quantifier rank and minimum number of variables. Then, for each positive integer k, we give an explicit example of a property of finite structures (in particular, of finite graphs) that can be expressed with a sentence of quantifier rank k, but where the same property needs 2^Ω(k²) quantifiers to be expressed. We next give the precise number of quantifiers needed to distinguish two rooted trees of different depths. Finally, we give a new upper bound on the number of quantifiers needed to express s-t connectivity, improving the previous known bound by a constant factor.

Ronald Fagin, Jonathan Lenchner, Nikhil Vyas, and Ryan Williams. On the Number of Quantifiers as a Complexity Measure. In 47th International Symposium on Mathematical Foundations of Computer Science (MFCS 2022). Leibniz International Proceedings in Informatics (LIPIcs), Volume 241, pp. 48:1-48:14, Schloss Dagstuhl – Leibniz-Zentrum für Informatik (2022)

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@InProceedings{fagin_et_al:LIPIcs.MFCS.2022.48, author = {Fagin, Ronald and Lenchner, Jonathan and Vyas, Nikhil and Williams, Ryan}, title = {{On the Number of Quantifiers as a Complexity Measure}}, booktitle = {47th International Symposium on Mathematical Foundations of Computer Science (MFCS 2022)}, pages = {48:1--48:14}, series = {Leibniz International Proceedings in Informatics (LIPIcs)}, ISBN = {978-3-95977-256-3}, ISSN = {1868-8969}, year = {2022}, volume = {241}, editor = {Szeider, Stefan and Ganian, Robert and Silva, Alexandra}, publisher = {Schloss Dagstuhl -- Leibniz-Zentrum f{\"u}r Informatik}, address = {Dagstuhl, Germany}, URL = {https://drops.dagstuhl.de/entities/document/10.4230/LIPIcs.MFCS.2022.48}, URN = {urn:nbn:de:0030-drops-168460}, doi = {10.4230/LIPIcs.MFCS.2022.48}, annote = {Keywords: number of quantifiers, multi-structural games, complexity measure, s-t connectivity, trees, rooted trees} }

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