ARRIVAL: A zero-player graph game in NP ∩ coNP
Suppose that a train is running along a railway network, starting from a
designated origin, with the goal of reaching a designated destination.
The network, however, is of a special nature: every time the train
traverses a switch, the switch will change its position immediately
afterwards. Hence, the next time the train traverses the same switch,
the other direction will be taken, so that directions alternate with
each traversal of the switch.
Given a network with origin and destination, what is the complexity of deciding whether the train, starting at the origin, will eventually reach the destination?
It is easy to see that this problem can be solved in exponential time, but we are not aware of any polynomial-time method. In this talk, I explain where the problem comes from and prove that is is in NP ∩ coNP; actually in UP ∩ coUP (problems with unique NP/coNP certificates).
This raises the question whether people have so far just failed to find a (simple) polynomial-time solution, or whether the complexity status is more subtle, as for some other well-known (two-player) graph games.
Joint work with Jérôme Dohrau, Hagar Mosaad, Manuel Kohler, Jiří Matoušek, Emo Welzl