Computing (FOLDOC) dictionary
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nondeterministic polynomial time
number of steps that is a polynomial
function of the size of
the input. The word "nondeterministic" suggests a method of
generating potential solutions using some form of
degenerate form of nondeterministic algorithm. The question
then arises: is NP equal to P? I.e. can every problem in NP
actually be solved in polynomial time? Everyone's first guess
is "no", but no one has managed to prove this; and some very
clever people think the answer is "yes".
If a problem A is in NP and a polynomial time algorithm for A
could also be used to solve problem B in polynomial time, then
B is also in NP.