Toda's theorem

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Toda's theorem is a result in computational complexity theory that was proven by Seinosuke Toda in his paper "PP is as Hard as the Polynomial-Time Hierarchy" (1991) and was given the 1998 Gödel Prize.


The theorem states that the entire polynomial hierarchy PH is contained in PPP; this implies a closely related statement, that PH is contained in P#P.


#P is the problem of exactly counting the number of solutions to a polynomially-verifiable question (that is, to a question in NP), while loosely speaking, PP is the problem of giving an answer which is correct at least half the time. The class P#P consists of all the problems which can be solved in polynomial time if you have access to instantaneous answers to any counting problem in #P (polynomial time relative to a #P oracle). Thus Toda's theorem implies that for any problem in the polynomial hierarchy there is a deterministic polynomial-time Turing reduction to a counting problem.[1]

An analogous result in the complexity theory over the reals (in the sense of Blum-Shub-Smale real Turing machines) was proved by Saugata Basu and Thierry Zell in 2009.[2]


The proof is broken into two parts.

  • First, it is established that
The proof uses a variation of Valiant-Vazirani theorem. Because contains and is closed under complement, it follows by induction that .
  • Second, it is established that

Together, the two parts imply


  1. 1998 Gödel Prize. Seinosuke Toda
  2. Saugata Basu and Thierry Zell (2009); Polynomial Hierarchy, Betti Numbers and a Real Analogue of Toda's Theorem, in Foundations of Computational Mathematics