Some 3CNF properties are hard to test

Eli Ben-Sasson, Prahladh Harsha, Sofya Raskhodnikova

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97 Scopus citations


For a Boolean formula φ on n variables, the associated property P φ is the collection of n-bit strings that satisfy φ. We study the query complexity of tests that distinguish (with high probability) between strings in P φ and strings that are far from P φ in Hamming distance. We prove that there are 3CNF formulae (with O(n) clauses) such that testing for the associated property requires Ω(n) queries, even with adaptive tests. This contrasts with 2CNF formulae, whose associated properties are always testable with O(√n) queries [E. Fischer et al., Monotonicity testing over general poset domains, in Proceedings of the 34th Annual ACM Symposium on Theory of Computing, ACM, New York, 2002, pp. 474-483]. Notice that for every negative instance (i.e., an assignment that does not satisfy φ) there are three bit queries that witness this fact. Nevertheless, finding such a short witness requires reading a constant fraction of the input, even when the input is very far from satisfying the formula that is associated with the property. A property is linear if its elements form a linear space. We provide sufficient conditions for linear properties to be hard to test, and in the course of the proof include the following observations which are of independent interest: 1. In the context of testing for linear properties, adaptive two-sided error tests have no more power than nonadaptive one-sided error tests. Moreover, without loss of generality, any test for a linear property is a linear test. A linear test verifies that a portion of the input satisfies a set of linear constraints, which define the property, and rejects if and only if it finds a falsified constraint. A linear test is by definition nonadaptive and, when applied to linear properties, has a one-sided error. 2. Random low density parity check codes (which are known to have linear distance and constant rate) are not locally testable. In fact, testing such a code of length n requires Ω(n) queries.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-21
Number of pages21
JournalSIAM Journal on Computing
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2006

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Computer Science(all)
  • Mathematics(all)


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