# On SAT representations of XOR constraints

We study the representation of systems S of linear equations over the two-element field (aka xor- or parity-constraints) via conjunctive normal forms F (boolean clause-sets). First we consider the problem of finding an "arc-consistent" representation ("AC"), meaning that unit-clause propagation will fix all forced assignments for all possible instantiations of the xor-variables. Our main negative result is that there is no polysize AC-representation in general. On the positive side we show that finding such an AC-representation is fixed-parameter tractable (fpt) in the number of equations. Then we turn to a stronger criterion of representation, namely propagation completeness ("PC") --- while AC only covers the variables of S, now all the variables in F (the variables in S plus auxiliary variables) are considered for PC. We show that the standard translation actually yields a PC representation for one equation, but fails so for two equations (in fact arbitrarily badly). We show that with a more intelligent translation we can also easily compute a translation to PC for two equations. We conjecture that computing a representation in PC is fpt in the number of equations.

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