The Identity Correspondence Problem and its Applications

Bell, Paul C and Potapov, Igor
(2009) The Identity Correspondence Problem and its Applications. World Scientific, 21. 6 - ?.

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In this paper we study several closely related fundamental problems for words and matrices. First, we introduce the Identity Correspondence Problem (ICP): whether a finite set of pairs of words (over a group alphabet) can generate an identity pair by a sequence of concatenations. We prove that ICP is undecidable by a reduction of Post's Correspondence Problem via several new encoding techniques. In the second part of the paper we use ICP to answer a long standing open problem concerning matrix semigroups: "Is it decidable for a finitely generated semigroup S of square integral matrices whether or not the identity matrix belongs to S?". We show that the problem is undecidable starting from dimension four even when the number of matrices in the generator is 48. From this fact, we can immediately derive that the fundamental problem of whether a finite set of matrices generates a group is also undecidable. We also answer several question for matrices over different number fields. Apart from the application to matrix problems, we believe that the Identity Correspondence Problem will also be useful in identifying new areas of undecidable problems in abstract algebra, computational questions in logic and combinatorics on words.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: We have made some proofs clearer and fixed an important typo from the published journal version of this article, see footnote 3 on page 13
Uncontrolled Keywords: math.GR, math.GR, math.CO
Depositing User: Symplectic Admin
Date Deposited: 12 Apr 2016 11:12
Last Modified: 28 Apr 2022 03:15
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