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Circuit Complexity


I got interested in circuit complexity in 1981 in Australia by working for a semester as Les Goldschlager's research assistant, during which we worked out the details of the first paper below. I carried that interest into my PhD thesis and on into the 1990s. Some of the papers in Neural Networks and Parallel Computing also have some circuit complexity in them too, so in spite of the fact that there are only two papers listed below, circuit complexity was clearly a thread that I followed for much of the 20th Century. My coauthors in this work include Les Goldschlager and my Penn State PhD student Peiyuan Yan.

Unbounded Fan-in Circuits (1994)


P. Y. Yan and I. Parberry, "Exponential Size Lower Bounds for Some Depth Three Circuits", Information and Computation, Vol. 112, No. 1, pp. 117-130, 1994. [pdf]


Exponential size lower bounds are obtained for some depth three circuits computing conjunction using one layer each of gates which compute Boolean functions of low total degree when expressed as polynomials, parity-modulo-2 gates, and parity-modulo-q gates, where q is prime. One of these results implies a special case of the constant degree hypothesis of Barrington et al. The lower bounds are obtained from an algebraic characterization of the functions computed by the circuits: it is shown that certain integer multiples of these functions can be expressed as the sum of a lattice element and a function of small value. It is conjectured that this characterization can be used to resolve the constant degree hypothesis.

Author's Comment

Yan and I were certain we were on the threshold of something deep here, but we never were able to push these results any further than this.

Bounded Fan-in Circuits (1986)

Circuit images.

L. M. Goldschlager and I. Parberry, "On the Construction of Parallel Computers from Various Bases of Boolean Functions", Theoretical Computer Science, Vol. 43, No. 1, pp. 43-58, 1986. [pdf]


The effects of bases of two-input Boolean functions are characterized in terms of their impact on some questions in parallel computation. It is found that a certain set of bases (called the P-complete set), which are not necessarily complete in the classical sense, apparently makes the circuit value problem difficult, and renders extended Turing machines and networks of Boolean gates equal to general parallel computers. A class of problems called EP arises naturally from this study, relating to the parity of the number of solutions to a problem, in contrast to previously defined classes concerning the count of the number of solutions (#P) or the existence of solutions (NP). Tournament isomorphism is a member of EP.

Author's Comment

I did this work while I was Les Goldschlager's Research Assistant in 1981. I believe that the Technical Report version was typed up by a human being on an actual electric typewriter. Things were a lot slower in those days. That probably explains why it took 5 years to get into print. One of the contributions of this paper is the independent discovery of the complexity class parity-P. Not that Les and I get much credit for it.

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