Simon DeDeo, Jonathan Machta, Stephan Mertens, Cristopher Moore

Paper #: 11-06-020

Random instances of feedforward Boolean circuits are studied both analytically and numerically. Evaluating these circuits is known to be a P-complete problem and thus, in the worst case, believed to be impossible to perform, even given a massively parallel computer, in time much less than the depth of the circuit. Nonetheless, it is found that for some ensembles of random circuits, saturation to a fixed truth value occurs rapidly so that evaluation of the circuit can be accomplished in much less parallel time than the depth of the circuit. For other ensembles saturation does not occur and circuit evaluation is apparently hard. In particular, for some random circuits composed of connectives with five or more inputs, the number of true outputs at each level is a chaotic sequence. Finally, while the average case complexity depends on the choice of ensemble, it is shown that for all ensembles it is possible to simultaneously construct a typical circuit together with its solution in polylogarithmic parallel time.