October 1 – 6 , 2006, Dagstuhl Seminar 06401

Complexity of Constraints


Nadia Creignou (University of Marseille, FR)
Phokion G. Kolaitis (IBM Almaden Center & UC Santa Cruz, US)
Heribert Vollmer (Leibniz Universität Hannover, DE)

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In a constraint satisfaction problem, the goal is to find an assignment of values to a given set of variables so that certain specified constraints are satisfied. Constraint satisfaction problems were introduced in the 1970s to model computational problems encountered in picture processing. It was quickly realized, however, that constraint satisfaction gives rise to a powerful general framework in which a wide variety of combinatorial problems can be expressed. As a matter of fact, it has been asserted that "Constraint satisfaction has a unitary theoretical model with myriad practical applications" (A. Mackworth, Foreword to Constraint Processing by Rina Dechter, 2003). Thus, nowadays constraint satisfaction problems (CSPs) are ubiquitous in many different areas of computer science, from artificial intelligence and database systems to circuit design, network optimization, and theory of programming languages. Consequently, it is important to analyze and pinpoint the computational complexity of certain algorithmic tasks related to constraint satisfaction. These include determining if a CSP has a solution (and, if so, finding such a solution), counting the number of solutions of a CSP, enumerating all solutions of a CSP, and finding the biggest number of constraints that can be simultaneously satisfied, if a CSP is unsatisfiable. Complexity-theoretic results about these tasks may have direct impact on, for instance, the design and processing of database query languages, or strategies in data-mining, or the design and implementation of planners.

During the past two decades, an impressive array of diverse techniques from mathematical fields, such as propositional logic, model theory, Boolean function theory, universal algebra and combinatorics, have been used to analyze the computational complexity of algorithmic tasks related to CSPs. Although significant progress has been made on several fronts, some of the central questions remain unsolved so far; perhaps the most prominent of these is to obtain a complete classification of the complexity of CSPs over an arbitrary, but fixed, finite domain. One of the main aims of the Dagstuhl Seminar wass to bring together researchers from all areas of activity in constraint satisfaction, so that they can communicate state-of-the-art advances and embark on a systematic interaction that will enhance the synergy between the different areas.

The organizers felt that the seminar would provide a unique opportunity to focus attention on a number of important research problems in the complexity of constraints, including the following:

  • Islands of tractability of uniform CSP
  • Complexity classifications for non-uniform CSP
  • Quantified Constraint Satisfaction
  • Study of complexity classes through the lens of Boolean CSP

Dagstuhl Seminar Series


  • Data Structures/algorithms/complexity


  • Constraint satisfaction problem
  • Satisfiability problems
  • Counting problems
  • Computational complexity
  • Post’s lattice
  • Galois correspondence
  • Universal algebra
  • Homomorphism problem
  • Combinatorics.


In the series Dagstuhl Reports each Dagstuhl Seminar and Dagstuhl Perspectives Workshop is documented. The seminar organizers, in cooperation with the collector, prepare a report that includes contributions from the participants' talks together with a summary of the seminar.


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Dagstuhl's Impact

Please inform us when a publication was published as a result from your seminar. These publications are listed in the category Dagstuhl's Impact and are presented on a special shelf on the ground floor of the library.


Furthermore, a comprehensive peer-reviewed collection of research papers can be published in the series Dagstuhl Follow-Ups.