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The Limits of Symmetric Computation

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If you have a question about this talk, please contact Valentin Hübner.

The most famous open problem in theoretical computer science, known as the P vs. NP problem challenges us to prove that for some natural search problems, no efficient algorithm is possible. At the moment, we have no idea how to prove such a statement. In order to make meaningful progress, we can restrict the class of algorithms we consider and show that, within these restrictions, no efficient algorithm exists. In this talk, I consider a natural restriction to symmetric algorithms. I explain how symmetries arise naturally in computational problems and why algorithms that respect these symmetries have inherent limitations. Many of our most powerful algorithmic techniques are symmetry preserving, while others are not. Exploring these limits offers a rich research agenda combining logic, algebra and combinatorics with algorithms.

This talk is part of the The Archimedeans (CU Mathematical Society) series.

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