Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile
Arenas M., Croquevielle L.A., Jayaram R., Riveros C. (2021)

#NFA Admits an FPRAS: Efficient Enumeration, Counting, and Uniform Generation for Logspace Classes

Revista : Journal of the ACM
Volumen : 68
Número : 6
Páginas : 1-40
Tipo de publicación : ISI Ir a publicación


In this work, we study two simple yet general complexity classes, based on logspace Turing machines, that provide a unifying framework for efficient query evaluation in areas such as information extraction and graph databases, among others. We investigate the complexity of three fundamental algorithmic problems for these classes: enumeration, counting, and uniform generation of solutions, and show that they have several desirable properties in this respect.Both complexity classes are defined in terms of non-deterministic logspace transducers (NL-transducers). For the first class, we consider the case of unambiguous NL-transducers, and we prove constant delay enumeration and both counting and uniform generation of solutions in polynomial time. For the second class, we consider unrestricted NL-transducers, and we obtain polynomial delay enumeration, approximate counting in polynomial time, and polynomial-time randomized algorithms for uniform generation. More specifically, we show that each problem in this second class admits a fully polynomial-time randomized approximation scheme (FPRAS) and a polynomial-time Las Vegas algorithm (with preprocessing) for uniform generation. Remarkably, the key idea to prove these results is to show that the fundamental problem #NFA admits an FPRAS, where #NFA is the problem of counting the number of strings of length n (given in unary) accepted by a non-deterministic finite automaton (NFA). While this problem is known to be #P-complete and, more precisely, SpanL-complete, it was open whether this problem admits an FPRAS. In this work, we solve this open problem and obtain as a welcome corollary that every function in SpanL admits an FPRAS.