In complexity theory, BPP is the class of decision problems solvable by a probabilistic Turing machine in polynomial time, with an error probability of at most 1/3 for all instances. The abbreviation BPP refers to Bounded-error, Probabilistic, Polynomial time.
If a problem is in BPP, then there is an algorithm for it that is allowed to flip coins and make random decisions. It is guaranteed to run in polynomial time. On any given run of the algorithm, it has a probability of at most 1/3 of giving the wrong answer. That is true, whether the answer is YES or NO.
The choice of 1/3 in the definition is arbitrary. It can be any constant between 0 and 1/2 (exclusive) and the set BPP will be unchanged. The idea is that there is a small probability of error, but if the algorithm is run many times, the chance that the majority of the runs are wrong drops off exponentially as a consequence of the Chernoff bound . This makes it possible to create a highly accurate algorithm by merely running the algorithm several times and taking a "majority vote" of the answers.
BPP is one of the largest practical classes of problems, meaning most problems of interest in BPP have efficient probabilistic algorithms that can be run quickly on real modern machines, by the method described above. For this reason it is of great practical interest which problems and classes of problems are inside BPP.
It is known that BPP=Co-BPP. It is an open question whether BPP is a subset of NP. It is also an open question whether NP is a subset of BPP; if it is, then NP=RP. It is known that RP is a subset of BPP, and BPP is a subset of PP. It is not known whether those two are strict subsets. BPP is contained in PH.
The existence of certain strong pseudorandom number generators is conjectured by most experts of the field. This conjecture implies that randomness does not give additional computational power to polynomial time computation, that is, P=RP=BPP. We also have P = BPP if EXPTIME collapses to MA, 1 if the exponential-time hierarchy collapses to E = DTIME(2O(n)), 1 or if E has exponential circuit complexity.2
For a long time, one of the most famous problems that was known to be in BPP but not in P was the problem of determining whether a given number is a prime. However, in the 2002 paper PRIMES in P, Manindra Agrawal and his students Neeraj Kayal and Nitin Saxena found a deterministic polynomial-time algorithm for this problem, thus showing that it is in P.
|Important complexity classes (more)|
|P | NP | Co-NP | NP-C | Co-NP-C | NP-hard | UP | #P | #P-C | L | NC | P-C|
|PSPACE | PSPACE-C | EXPTIME | EXPSPACE | BQP | BPP | RP | ZPP | PCP | IP | PH|