The Complexity of Divisibility

Bausch, Johannes ; Cubitt, Toby (2016-04-08)


We address two sets of long-standing open questions in linear algebra and probability theory, from a computational complexity perspective: stochastic matrix divisibility, and divisibility and decomposability of probability distributions. We prove that finite divisibility of stochastic matrices is an NP-complete problem, and extend this result to nonnegative matrices, and completely-positive trace-preserving maps, i.e. the quantum analogue of stochastic matrices. We further prove a complexity hierarchy for the divisibility and decomposability of probability distributions, showing that finite distribution divisibility is in P, but decomposability is NP-hard. For the former, we give an explicit polynomial-time algorithm. All results on distributions extend to weak-membership formulations, proving that the complexity of these problems is robust to perturbations.