R. de Haan
- On the Parameterized Complexity of Finding Small Unsatisfiable Subsets of CNF Formulas and CSP Instances
- ACM Transactions on Computational Logic
- Volume | Issue number
- 18 | 3
- Article number
- Number of pages
- Document type
- Interfacultary Research Institutes
- Institute for Logic, Language and Computation (ILLC)
In many practical settings it is useful to find a small unsatisfiable subset of a given unsatisfiable set of constraints. We study this problem from a parameterized complexity perspective, taking the size of the unsatisfiable subset as the natural parameter where the set of constraints is either (i) given a set of clauses, i.e., a formula in conjunctive normal Form (CNF), or (ii) as an instance of the Constraint Satisfaction Problem (CSP).
In general, the problem is fixed-parameter intractable. For an instance of the propositional satisfiability problem (SAT), it was known to be W-complete. We establish A-completeness for CSP instances, where A-hardness prevails already for the Boolean case.
With these fixed-parameter intractability results for the general case in mind, we consider various restricted classes of inputs and draw a detailed complexity landscape. It turns out that often Boolean CSP and CNF formulas behave similarly, but we also identify notable exceptions to this rule.
The main part of this article is dedicated to classes of inputs that are induced by Boolean constraint languages that Schaefer  identified as the maximal constraint languages with a tractable satisfiability problem. We show that for the CSP setting, the problem of finding small unsatisfiable subsets remains fixed-parameter intractable for all Schaefer languages for which the problem is non-trivial. We show that this is also the case for CNF formulas with the exception of the class of bijunctive (Krom) formulas, which allows for an identification of a small unsatisfiable subset in polynomial time.
In addition, we consider various restricted classes of inputs with bounds on the maximum number of times that a variable occurs (the degree), bounds on the arity of constraints, and bounds on the domain size. For the case of CNF formulas, we show that restricting the degree is enough to obtain fixed-parameter tractability, whereas for the case of CSP instances, one needs to restrict the degree, the arity, and the domain size simultaneously to establish fixed-parameter tractability.
Finally, we relate the problem of finding small unsatisfiable subsets of a set of constraints to the problem of identifying whether a given variable-value assignment is entailed or forbidden already by a small subset of constraints. Moreover, we use the connection between the two problems to establish similar parameterized complexity results also for the latter problem.
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