[ kŏm′pyu-tā′shə-nəl ]
A mathematical characterization of the difficulty of a mathematical problem which describes the resources required by a computing machine to solve the problem. The mathematical study of such characterizations is called computational complexity theory and is important in many branches of theoretical computer science, especially cryptography.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.