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Diagram of an AC0 circuit: The n input bits are on the bottom and the top gate produces the output; the circuit consists of AND- and OR-gates of polynomial fan-in each, and the alternation depth is bounded by a constant.

AC0 is a complexity class used in circuit complexity. It is the smallest class in the AC hierarchy, and consists of all families of circuits of depth O(1) and polynomial size, with unlimited-fanin AND gates and OR gates. (We allow NOT gates only at the inputs).[1] It thus contains NC0, which has only bounded-fanin AND and OR gates.[1]

Example problems[edit]

Integer addition and subtraction are computable in AC0,[2] but multiplication is not (at least, not under the usual binary or base-10 representations of integers).

Descriptive complexity[edit]

From a descriptive complexity viewpoint, DLOGTIME-uniform AC0 is equal to the descriptive class FO+BIT of all languages describable in first-order logic with the addition of the BIT predicate, or alternatively by FO(+, ×), or by Turing machine in the logarithmic hierarchy.[3]


In 1984 Furst, Saxe, and Sipser showed that calculating the parity of an input cannot be decided by any AC0 circuits, even with non-uniformity.[4][1] It follows that AC0 is not equal to NC1, because a family of circuits in the latter class can compute parity.[1] More precise bounds follow from switching lemma. Using them, it has been shown that there is an oracle separation between the polynomial hierarchy and PSPACE.


  1. ^ a b c d Arora, Sanjeev; Barak, Boaz (2009). Computational complexity. A modern approach. Cambridge University Press. pp. 117–118, 287. ISBN 978-0-521-42426-4. Zbl 1193.68112. 
  2. ^ Barrington, David Mix; Maciel, Alexis (July 18, 2000). "Lecture 2: The Complexity of Some Problems" (PDF). IAS/PCMI Summer Session 2000, Clay Mathematics Undergraduate Program: Basic Course on Computational Complexity. 
  3. ^ Immerman, N. (1999). Descriptive Complexity. Springer. p. 85. 
  4. ^ Furst, Merrick; Saxe, James B.; Sipser, Michael (1984). "Parity, circuits, and the polynomial-time hierarchy". Mathematical Systems Theory. 17 (1): 13–27. doi:10.1007/BF01744431. MR 0738749. Zbl 0534.94008.