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We give a complexity-theoretic characterization of the class of problems in NP having zero-knowledge argument systems. This characterization is symmetric in its treatment of the zero knowledge and the soundness conditions, and thus we deduce that the class of problems in NP\(\bigcap\)coNP having zero-knowledge arguments is closed under complement. Furthermore, we show that a problem in NP has a statistical zero-knowledge argument \(\)system if and only if its complement has a computational zero-knowledge proof system. What is novel about these results is that they are unconditional, i.e., do not rely on unproven complexity assumptions such as the existence of one-way functions.
Our characterization of zero-knowledge arguments also enables us to prove a variety of other unconditional results about the class of problems in NP having zero-knowledge arguments, such as equivalences between honest-verifier and malicious-verifier zero knowledge, private coins and public coins, inefficient provers and efficient provers, and non-black-box simulation and black-box simulation. Previously, such results were only known unconditionally for zero-knowledge proof systems, or under the assumption that one-way functions exist for zero-knowledge argument systems.
Given a function \(f\) over \(n\) binary variables, and an ordering of the \(n\) variables, we consider the Expected Decision Depth problem. Namely, what is the expected number of bits that need to be observed until the value of the function is determined, when bits of the input are observed according to the given order. Our main finding is that this problem is (essentially) #P-complete. Moreover, the hardness holds even when the function f is represented as a decision tree.
We initiate a complexity-theoretic treatment of hardness amplification for collision-resistant hash functions, namely the transformation of weakly collision-resistant hash functions into strongly collision-resistant ones in the standard model of computation. We measure the level of collision resistance by the maximum probability, over the choice of the key, for which an efficient adversary can find a collision. The goal is to obtain constructions with short output, short keys, small loss in adversarial complexity tolerated, and a good trade-off between compression ratio and computational complexity. We provide an analysis of several simple constructions, and show that many of the parameters achieved by our constructions are almost optimal in some sense.