[ 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.
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The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.