Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
A problem that can be formally stated and for which a solution is known to exist but which has not yet been solved.
It is common in graduate schools to point out open problems to students in the hopes that perhaps the student can solve such problems.
Examples of "formerly open problems" closed since 1975 include "give a proof of fermat's last theorem" and "give a proof that four colors suffice to color any planar map." Unfortunately, these problems were solved by faculty members, not by graduate students.
- An important open problem in the field of theoretical computer science is "Prove or disprove that no problem in the class of NP-Complete problems can be solved in polynomial time by a deterministic Turing machine." Stated succinctly, show that P != NP [Garey79].
- A major open problem in computer scheduling is "Give an optimal polynomial-time algorithm for 3 processor scheduling of unit-length jobs with task dependencies, or show that the problem is NP-Complete." An algorithm for optimal 2-processor scheduling was first discovered by Coffman and Graham [Coffman72]. This problem has practical importance in scheduling the instructions in the pipelines of a superscalar processor. A solution to this problem implies an algorithm exists for optimal preemptive scheduling of 3 processor systems. In fact, if P != NP then problems in the computational complexity class (NP - NP-Complete - P) are known to exist, and this problem is thought to be a candidate for this complexity class.
- Another major open problem in real-time computer scheduling is "Give an optimal heuristic for scheduling periodic real-time task systems when the deadlines are all a constant multiple C (C >= 1) of the period, or prove that the problem is NP-complete (thought to be intractible.)" The most recent work in this area is by Lehoczky [Lehoczky90]. A solution to this problem will allow us to trade off latency for increased device utilization in real-time systems (e.g. in CPU's or in real-time networks.)
- [Garey79] M.R. Garey and D.S. Johnson, Computers and Intractability: A Guide to the Theory of NPCompleteness, Freeman (1979).
- [Coffman72] E.G. Coffman and R.L. Graham, Optimal Scheduling for Two Processor Systems, Acta Informatica, vol. 1, 1972, pp. 200-213.
- [Lehoczky90] J. Lehoczky, Fixed priority scheduling of periodic task sets with arbitrary deadlines, RTSS 1990, pp. 201-213, December 1990.
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