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TR09-002 | 23rd November 2008 00:00

Short Proofs May Be Spacious: An Optimal Separation of Space and Length in Resolution


Authors: Eli Ben-Sasson, Jakob Nordström
Publication: 6th January 2009 00:00
Downloads: 3031


A number of works have looked at the relationship between length and space of resolution proofs. A notorious question has been whether the existence of a short proof implies the existence of a proof that can be verified using limited space.

In this paper we resolve the question by answering it negatively in the strongest possible way. We show that there are families of 6-CNF formulas of size n, for arbitrarily large n, that have resolution proofs of length O(n) but for which any proof requires space Omega(n/log n). This is the strongest asymptotic separation possible since any proof of length O(n) can always be transformed into a proof in space O(n/log n).

Our result follows by reducing the space complexity of so called pebbling formulas over a directed acyclic graph to the black-white pebbling price of the graph. The proof is somewhat simpler than previous results (in particular, those reported in [Nordstrom 2006, Nordstrom and Hastad 2008]) as it uses a slightly different flavor of pebbling formulas which allows for a rather straightforward reduction of proof space to standard black-white pebbling price.

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