(NP) A set or property of computational decision problems solvable by a nondeterministic Turing Machine in a number of steps that is a polynomial function of the size of the input. The word “nondeterministic” suggests a method of generating potential solutions using some form of nondeterminism or “trial and error”. This may take exponential time as long as a potential solution can be verified in polynomial time.
NP is obviously a superset of P (polynomial time problems solvable by a deterministic Turing Machine in polynomial time) since a deterministic algorithm can be considered as a degenerate form of nondeterministic algorithm. The question then arises: is NP equal to P? I.e. can every problem in NP actually be solved in polynomial time? Everyone’s first guess is “no”, but no one has managed to prove this; and some very clever people think the answer is “yes”.
If a problem A is in NP and a polynomial time algorithm for A could also be used to solve problem B in polynomial time, then B is also in NP.
See also Co-NP, NP-complete.
- Nondeterministic turing machine
complexity A normal (deterministic) Turing Machine that has a “guessing head” – a write-only head that writes a guess at a solution on the tape first, based on some arbitrary internal algorithm. The regular Turing Machine then runs and returns “yes” or “no” to indicate whether the solution is correct. A nondeterministic Turing Machine can […]
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