Strong algebraic proof systems such as IPS (Ideal Proof System;
Grochow-Pitassi 2018)
offer a general model for deriving polynomials in an ideal and refuting
unsatisfiable propositional
formulas, subsuming most standard propositional proof systems. A major
approach for lower bounding the size of IPS refutations is the Functional
Lower Bound Method (Forbes, Shpilka,
Tzameret and Wigderson 2021), which reduces the hardness of refuting a
polynomial equation f(x) = 0 with no Boolean solutions to the hardness of
computing the function 1/f(x) over the Boolean cube with an algebraic
circuit. Using symmetry we provide a general way to obtain many new hard
instances against fragments of IPS via the functional lower bound method.
This includes hardness over finite fields and hard instances different from
Subset Sum variants both of which were unknown before, and significantly
improved constant-depth IPS lower bounds.
Conversely, we expose the limitation of this method by showing it cannot
lead to proof complexity lower bounds for any hard Boolean instance (e.g.,
CNFs) for any sufficiently strong proof systems (including AC0[p]-Frege).

Joint work with Tuomas Hakoniemi and Nutan Limaye