Chapter 1

Models of Computation and Complexity Classes

O time! thou must untangle this, not I; It is too hard a knot for me to untie.

—William Shakespeare

The greatest friend of truth is time.

—Charles Caleb Colton

The notions of algorithms and complexity are meaningful only when they are defined in terms of formal computational models. In this chapter, we introduce our basic computational models: deterministic Turing machines and nondeterministic Turing machines. Based on these models, we define the notion of time and space complexity and the fundamental complexity classes including P and NP. In the last two sections, we study two best known proof techniques, diagonalization and simulation, that are used to separate and collapse complexity classes, respectively.

1.1 Strings, Coding, and Boolean Functions

Our basic data structure is a string. All other data structures are tobe encoded and represented by strings. A string is a finite sequence of symbols. For instance, the word string is a string over the symbols of English letters; the arithmetic expression “c01-math-0001” is a string over symbols 3, 4, 5, c01-math-0002, and c01-math-0003. Thus, to describe a string, we must specify the set of symbols to occur in that ...

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