Positivity problems for low-order linear recurrence sequences

Joël Ouaknine and James Worrell

We consider two decision problems for linear recurrence sequences (LRS) over the integers, namely the Positivity Problem (are all terms of a given LRS positive?) and the Ultimate Positivity Problem (are all but finitely many terms of a given LRS positive?). We show decidability of both problems for LRS of order 5 or less, with complexity in the Counting Hierarchy for Positivity, and in polynomial time for Ultimate Positivity. Moreover, we show by way of hardness that extending the decidability of either problem to LRS of order 6 would entail major breakthroughs in analytic number theory, more precisely in the field of Diophantine approximation of transcendental numbers.

Proceedings of SODA 14, 2014. 14 pages.

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