Secret Sharing, Slice Formulas, and Monotone Real Circuits

Benny Applebaum, Amos Beimel, Oded Nir, Naty Peter, Toniann Pitassi

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionpeer-review


A secret-sharing scheme allows to distribute a secret s among n parties such that only some predefined “authorized” sets of parties can reconstruct the secret s, and all other “unauthorized” sets learn nothing about s. For over 30 years, it was known that any (monotone) collection of authorized sets can be realized by a secret-sharing scheme whose shares are of size 2n−o(n) and until recently no better scheme was known. In a recent breakthrough, Liu and Vaikuntanathan (STOC 2018) have reduced the share size to 20.994n+o(n), and this was further improved by several follow-ups accumulating in an upper bound of 1.5n+o(n) (Applebaum and Nir, CRYPTO 2021). Following these advances, it is natural to ask whether these new approaches can lead to a truly sub-exponential upper-bound of 2n1ε for some constant ε > 0, or even all the way down to polynomial upper-bounds. In this paper, we relate this question to the complexity of computing monotone Boolean functions by monotone real circuits (MRCs) - a computational model that was introduced by Pudlák (J. Symb. Log., 1997) in the context of proof complexity. We introduce a new notion of “separable” MRCs that lies between monotone real circuits and monotone real formulas (MRFs). As our main results, we show that recent constructions of general secret-sharing schemes implicitly give rise to separable MRCs for general monotone functions of similar complexity, and that some monotone functions (in monotone NP) cannot be computed by sub-exponential size separable MRCs. Interestingly, it seems that proving similar lower-bounds for general MRCs is beyond the reach of current techniques. We use this connection to obtain lower-bounds against a natural family of secret-sharing schemes, as well as new non-trivial upper-bounds for MRCs. Specifically, we conclude that recent approaches for secret-sharing schemes cannot achieve sub-exponential share size and that every monotone function can be realized by an MRC (or even MRF) of complexity 1.5n+o(n). To the best of our knowledge, this is the first improvement over the trivial 2n−o(n) upper-bound. Along the way, we show that the recent constructions of general secret-sharing schemes implicitly give rise to Boolean formulas over slice functions and prove that such formulas can be simulated by separable MRCs of similar size. On a conceptual level, our paper continues the rich line of study that relates the share size of secret-sharing schemes to monotone complexity measures.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publication13th Innovations in Theoretical Computer Science Conference, ITCS 2022
EditorsMark Braverman
ISBN (Electronic)9783959772174
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2022
Event13th Innovations in Theoretical Computer Science Conference, ITCS 2022 - Berkeley, United States
Duration: 31 Jan 20223 Feb 2022

Publication series

NameLeibniz International Proceedings in Informatics, LIPIcs


Conference13th Innovations in Theoretical Computer Science Conference, ITCS 2022
Country/TerritoryUnited States


  • Monotone real circuits
  • Secret sharing schemes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Software


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