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On Algorithms and Complexity for Sets with Cardinality Constraints

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Typestate systems ensure many desirable properties of imperative programs, including initialization of object fields and correct use of stateful library interfaces. Abstract sets with cardinality constraints naturally generalize typestate properties: relationships between the typestates of objects can be expressed as subset and disjointness relations on sets, and elements of sets can be represented as sets of cardinality one. In addition, sets with cardinality constraints provide a natural language for specifying operations and invariants of data structures. Motivated by these program analysis applications, this paper presents new algorithms and new complexity results for constraints on sets and their cardinalities. We study several classes of constraints and demonstrate a trade-off between their expressive power and their complexity. Our first result concerns a quantifier-free fragment of Boolean Algebra with Presburger Arithmetic. We give a nondeterministic polynomial-time algorithm for reducing the satisfiability of sets with symbolic cardinalities to constraints on constant cardinalities, and give a polynomial-space algorithm for the resulting problem. The best previously existing algorithm runs in exponential space and nondeterministic exponential time. In a quest for more efficient fragments, we identify several subclasses of sets with cardinality constraints whose satisfiability is NP-hard. Finally, we identify a class of constraints that has polynomial-time satisfiability and entailment problems and can serve as a foundation for efficient program analysis. We give a system of rewriting rules for enforcing certain consistency properties of these constraints and show how to extract complete information from constraints in normal form. This result implies the soundness and completeness of our algorithms.


Bruno Marnette, Viktor Kuncak, and Martin Rinard. On algorithms and complexity for sets with cardinality constraints. Technical report, MIT CSAIL, August 2005.

BibTex Entry

  author = {Bruno Marnette and Viktor Kuncak and Martin Rinard},
  title = {On Algorithms and Complexity for Sets with Cardinality Constraints},
  institution = {MIT CSAIL},
  year = 2005,
  month = {August},
  url = {},
  localurl = {}

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