The Hardness of Finding Linear Ranking Functions for Lasso Programs

Amir M. Ben-Amram

Finding whether a linear-constraint loop has a linear ranking function is an important key to understanding the loop behavior, proving its termination and establishing iteration bounds. If no preconditions are provided, the decision problem is known to be in coNP when variables range over the integers and in PTIME for the rational numbers, or real numbers. Here we show that deciding whether a linear-constraint loop with a precondition, specifically with partially-specified input, has a linear ranking function is EXPSPACE-hard over the integers, and PSPACE-hard over the rationals. The precise complexity of these decision problems is yet unknown. The EXPSPACE lower bound is derived from the reachability problem for Petri nets (equivalently, Vector Addition Systems), and possibly indicates an even stronger lower bound (subject to open problems in VAS theory). The lower bound for the rationals follows from a novel simulation of Boolean programs. Lower bounds are also given for the problem of deciding if a linear ranking-function supported by a particular form of inductive invariant exists. For loops over integers, the problem is PSPACE-hard for convex polyhedral invariants and EXPSPACE-hard for downward-closed sets of natural numbers as invariants.

In Adriano Peron and Carla Piazza: Proceedings Fifth International Symposium on Games, Automata, Logics and Formal Verification (GandALF 2014), Verona, Italy, 10th - 12th September 2014, Electronic Proceedings in Theoretical Computer Science 161, pp. 32–45.
I thank the organizers of the Dagstuhl Seminar 14141, "Reachability Problems for Infinite-State Systems", for the opportunity to present an early draft of this work.
Published: 24th August 2014.

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