Short PCPs Verifiable in Polylogarithmic Time

Eli Ben-Sasson, Oded Goldreich, Prahladh Harsha, Madhu Sudan, and Salil Vadhan


We show that every language in NP has a probabilistically checkable proof of proximity (i.e., proofs asserting that an instance is ``close'' to a member of the language), where the verifier's running time is polylogarithmic in the input size and the length of the probabilistically checkable proof is only polylogarithmically larger that the length of the classical proof. (Such a verifier can only query polylogarithmically many bits of the input instance and the proof. Thus it needs oracle access to the input as well as the proof, and cannot guarantee that the input is in the language --- only that it is close to some string in the language.  If the verifier is restricted further in its query complexity and only allowed q queries, then the proof size blows up by a factor of 2^{(log n)^{c/q}} where the constant c depends only on the language (and is independent of q). Our results thus give efficient (in the sense of running time) versions of the shortest known PCPs, due to Ben-Sasson et al. (STOC '04) and Ben-Sasson and Sudan (STOC '05), respectively.  The time complexity of the verifier and the size of the proof were the original emphases in the definition of holographic proofs, due to Babai et al. (STOC '91), and our work is the first to return to these emphases since their work.

Of technical interest in our proof is a new complete problem for NEXP based on constraint satisfaction problems with very low complexity constraints, and techniques to arithmetize such constraints over fields of small characteristic.


 [ back to Salil Vadhan's research]