Friday 9 May 2014

Deterministic Polymonial Time (P) and Non-Deterministic Polymonial Time (NP)

This is going to be a short description of the difference between P and NP time complexity classes, and what the time complexity classes are based upon. These are used for Computational Complexity and Algorithm Analysis. Computability Theory is mainly concerned with what is computable, rather than how feasible that computation is.

The P and NP time complexity classes are commonly based upon Deterministic and Non-Deterministic Turing Machines. These machines use similar mathematical notation to other models of computation, but are slightly more complex and have a larger application to other areas of Computer Science, and that is one of the reasons why I prefer to look at Turing Machines rather than Finite-State Automata.

The P complexity class is a class of decision problems (Yes or No on some input), which are solvable within Polynomial Time on a Deterministic Turing Machine. It is given by P(n) or just P, where is the number of inputs. On the other hand, NP is the complexity class of decision problems which are solvable within Polynomial Time but on a Non-Deterministic Turing Machine, and therefore given by the NP(n) or simply NP notation.

In general terms, it is considered that P is a feasible complexity class for decision problems. With both classes, the running time of the algorithm is said to increase polynomially as the size of input increases.

The Y-Axis is Time, and the X-Axis is the Input Size.

NP-Completeness and NP-Hard

Given a decision problem A and another problem B, the decision problem A is considered NP-Hard, if for every B which belongs to NP, and B is reducible to A. If A is NP-Hard and and belongs to NP, then A is considered to be NP-Complete. NP-Complete algorithms infer that there is no P version of that such algorithm. They may also be considered the hardest problems within NP.


NP (Complexity)
P (Complexity)

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