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QBF Merge Resolution is powerful but unnatural

by   Meena Mahajan, et al.
The Institute of Mathematical Sciences, Chennai

The Merge Resolution proof system (M-Res) for QBFs, proposed by Beyersdorff et al. in 2019, explicitly builds partial strategies inside refutations. The original motivation for this approach was to overcome the limitations encountered in long-distance Q-Resolution proof system (LD-Q-Res), where the syntactic side-conditions, while prohibiting all unsound resolutions, also end up prohibiting some sound resolutions. However, while the advantage of M-Res over many other resolution-based QBF proof systems was already demonstrated, a comparison with LD-Q-Res itself had remained open. In this paper, we settle this question. We show that M-Res has an exponential advantage over not only LD-Q-Res, but even over LQU^+-Res and IRM, the most powerful among currently known resolution-based QBF proof systems. Combining this with results from Beyersdorff et al. 2020, we conclude that M-Res is incomparable with LQU-Res and LQU^+-Res. Our proof method reveals two additional and curious features about M-Res: (i) MRes is not closed under restrictions, and is hence not a natural proof system, and (ii) weakening axiom clauses with existential variables provably yields an exponential advantage over M-Res without weakening. We further show that in the context of regular derivations, weakening axiom clauses with universal variables provably yields an exponential advantage over M-Res without weakening. These results suggest that MRes is better used with weakening, though whether M-Res with weakening is closed under restrictions remains open. We note that even with weakening, M-Res continues to be simulated by eFrege + ∀red (the simulation of ordinary M-Res was shown recently by Chew and Slivovsky).


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