Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Improving SAT Solvers by Exploiting Empirical Characteristics of CDCL
by Oh, Chanseok, Ph.D., New York University, 2016, 145; 10025676
Abstract (Summary)

The Boolean Satisfiability Problem (SAT) is a canonical decision problem originally shown to be NP-complete in Cook's seminal work on the theory of computational complexity. The SAT problem is one of several computational tasks identified by researchers as core problems in computer science. The existence of an efficient decision procedure for SAT would imply P = NP. However, numerous algorithms and techniques for solving the SAT problem have been proposed in various forms in practical settings. Highly efficient solvers are now actively being used, either directly or as a core engine of a larger system, to solve real-world problems that arise from many application domains. These state-of-the-art solvers use the Davis-Putnam-Logemann-Loveland (DPLL) algorithm extended with Conflict-Driven Clause Learning (CDCL). Due to the practical importance of SAT, building a fast SAT solver can have a huge impact on current and prospective applications. The ultimate contribution of this thesis is improving the state of the art of CDCL by understanding and exploiting the empirical characteristics of how CDCL works on real-world problems. The first part of the thesis shows empirically that most of the unsatisfiable real-world problems solvable by CDCL have a refutation proof with near-constant width for the great portion of the proof. Based on this observation, the thesis provides an unconventional perspective that CDCL solvers can solve real-world problems very efficiently and often more efficiently just by maintaining a small set of certain classes of learned clauses. The next part of the thesis focuses on understanding the inherently different natures of satisfiable and unsatisfiable problems and their implications on the empirical workings of CDCL. We examine the varying degree of roles and effects of crucial elements of CDCL based on the satisfiability status of a problem. Ultimately, we propose effective techniques to exploit the new insights about the different natures of proving satisfiability and unsatisfiability to improve the state of the art of CDCL. In the last part of the thesis, we present a reference solver that incorporates all the techniques described in the thesis. The design of the presented solver emphasizes minimality in implementation while guaranteeing state-of-the-art performance. Several versions of the reference solver have demonstrated top-notch performance, earning several medals in the annual SAT competitive events. The minimal spirit of the reference solver shows that a simple CDCL framework alone can still be made competitive with state-of-the-art solvers that implement sophisticated techniques outside the CDCL framework.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Wies, Thomas
Commitee: Barrett, Clark, Ezick, James, Goldberg, Benjamin, Simon, Laurent
School: New York University
Department: Computer Science
School Location: United States -- New York
Source: DAI-B 77/07(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Computer Engineering, Computer science
Keywords: Boolean Satisfiability Problem, CDCL, DPLL, Learned clauses, Restarts, VSIDS
Publication Number: 10025676
ISBN: 9781339521282
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