A Dichotomy for Real Weighted Holant Problems

Sangxia Huang, Pinyan Lu

Holant is a framework of counting characterized by local constraints. It is closely related to other well-studied frameworks such as #CSP and Graph Homomorphism. An effective dichotomy for such frameworks can settle simultaneously the complexity of all combinatorial problems expressible in that framework. Both #CSP and Graph Homomorphism can be viewed as sub-families of Holant with the additional assumption that the equality constraints are always available. Other sub-families of Holant such as Holant* and Holantc problems, in which we assume some specific sets of constraints to be freely available, were also studied. The Holant framework becomes more expressive and contains more interesting tractable cases with less or no freely available constraint functions, while, on the other hand, it also becomes more challenging to obtain a complete characterization of its time complexity. Recently, complexity dichotomy for a variety of sub-families of Holant such as #CSP, Graph Homomorphism, Holant* and Holantc were proved. The dichotomy for the general Holant framework, which is the most desirable, still remains open. In this paper, we prove a dichotomy for the general Holant framework where all the constraints are real symmetric functions. This setting already captures most of the interesting combinatorial problems defined by local constraints, such as (perfect) matching, independent set, vertex cover and so on. This is the first time a dichotomy is obtained for general Holant Problems without any auxiliary functions.

One benefit of working with Holant framework is some powerful new reduction techniques such as Holographic reduction. Along the proof of our dichotomy, we introduce a new reduction technique, namely realizing a constraint function by approximating it. This new technique is employed in our proof in a situation where it seems that all previous reduction techniques fail, thus this new idea of reduction might also be of independent interest. Besides proving dichotomy and developing new technique, we also obtained some interesting by-products. We prove a dichotomy for #CSP restricting to instances where each variable appears a multiple of times for any . We also prove that counting the number of Eulerian-Orientations on -regular graphs is #P-hard for any .