TR#:  CS0818 
Class:  CS 
Title:  ARITY VS. ALTERNATION IN SECOND ORDER LOGIC. 
Authors:  J.A. Makowsky and Y.B. Pnueli 
CS0818.pdf  
Abstract: 
We investigate the expressive power of second order logic over finite structures, when two limitations are imposed. Let SAA(K,N)\ (AA(K,N)) be the set of second order formulas such that the arity of the relation variables is bounded by k and the number of alternations of (both first order and) second order quantification is bounded by n. We show that this imposes a proper hierarchy on second order logic, i.e., for every k,n there are problems not definable in AA(k,n) but definable in AA(k+c_1, n+d_1) for some c_1,d_1. The method to show this is to introduce the set AUTOSAT(F) of formulas in F which satisfy themselves. We study the complexity of this set for various fragments of second order logic. For first order logic FOL with unbounded alternation of quantifiers AUTOSAT(FOL) is P Spacecomplete. For first order logic FOL_n with alternation of quantifiers bounded by n, AUTOSAT(FOL_N) is definable in AA(3,n+4). AUTOSAT(AA(K,N)) is definable in AA(k+c_1,n+d_1) for some c_1,d_1.

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