Semiring Reasoning Frameworks in AI and Their Computational Complexity

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Many important problems in AI, among them #SAT, parameter learning and probabilistic inference go beyond the classical satisfiability problem. Here, instead of finding a solution we are interested in a quantity associated with the set of solutions, such as the number of solutions, the optimal solution or the probability that a query holds in a solution. To model such quantitative problems in a uniform manner, a number of frameworks, e.g. Algebraic Model Counting and Semiring-based Constraint Satisfaction Problems, employ what we call the semiring paradigm. In the latter the abstract algebraic structure of the semiring serves as a means of parameterizing the problem definition, thus allowing for different modes of quantitative computations by choosing different semirings. While efficiently solvable cases have been widely studied, a systematic study of the computational complexity of such problems depending on the semiring parameter is missing. In this work, we characterize the latter by NP(R), a novel generalization of NP over semiring R, and obtain NP(R)-completeness results for a selection of semiring frameworks. To obtain more tangible insights into the hardness of NP(R), we link it to well-known complexity classes from the literature. Interestingly, we manage to connect the computational hardness to properties of the semiring. Using this insight, we see that, on the one hand, NP(R) is always at least as hard as NP or ModpP depending on the semiring R and in general unlikely to be in FPSPACEpoly. On the other hand, for broad subclasses of semirings relevant in practice we can employ reductions to NP, ModpP and #P. These results show that in many cases solutions are only mildly harder to compute than functions in NP, ModpP and #P, give us new insights into how problems that involve counting on semirings can be approached, and provide a means of assessing whether an algorithm is appropriate for a given class of problems.

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