On the fine-grained complexity of parity problems
We consider the parity variants of basic problems studied in fine-grained complexity. We show that finding the exact solution is just as hard as finding its parity (i.e. if the solution is even or odd) for a large number of classical problems, including All-Pairs Shortest Paths (APSP), Diameter, Radius, Median, Second Shortest Path, Maximum Consecutive Subsums, Min-Plus Convolution, and 0/1-Knapsack. A direct reduction from a problem to its parity version is often difficult to design. Instead, we revisit the existing hardness reductions and tailor them in a problem-specific way to the parity version. Nearly all reductions from APSP in the literature proceed via the (subcubic-equivalent but simpler) Negative Weight Triangle (NWT) problem. Our new modified reductions also start from NWT or a non-standard parity variant of it. We are not able to establish a subcubic-equivalence with the more natural parity counting variant of NWT, where we ask if the number of negative triangles is even or odd. Perhaps surprisingly, we justify this by designing a reduction from the seemingly-harder Zero Weight Triangle problem, showing that parity is (conditionally) strictly harder than decision for NWT.