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Electronic Colloquium on Computational Complexity

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TR94-010 | 12th December 1994 00:00

Natural Proofs



We introduce the notion of {\em natural} proof.
We argue that the known proofs of lower bounds on the complexity of explicit
Boolean functions in non-monotone models
fall within our definition of natural.
We show based on a hardness assumption
that natural proofs can't prove superpolynomial lower bounds for
general circuits.
Without the hardness assumption, we are able to show that they can't prove
exponential lower bounds (for general circuits) applicable to the discrete
logarithm problem.
We show that the weaker class of
$AC^0$-natural proofs which is sufficient to prove the parity lower bounds of Furst, Saxe, and
Sipser; Yao; and Hastad is
inherently incapable of proving the bounds of Razborov and Smolensky. We give some formal
evidence that natural proofs are indeed natural by showing that every formal
complexity measure which can prove super-polynomial lower bounds for a single
can do so for almost all functions, which is one of the key requirements to
a natural proof in our sense.

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