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Probabilistic Proof Systems:A Primer

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Various types of probabilistic proof systems have played a central role in the development of computer science in the last couple of decades. These proof systems deviate from the traditional concept of a proof by introducing randomization and interaction into the verification process. Probabilistic proof systems carry an error probability (which is explicitly bounded and can be decreased by repetitions), but they offer various advantages over deterministic proof systems. This primer concentrates on three types of probabilistic proof systems: interactive proofs, zero-knowledge proofs, and probabilistically checkable proofs (PCP). Surveying the basic results regarding these proof systems, the primer stresses the essential role of randomness in each of them.