From what I know, there is a vast literature on language recognizers in computer science. Language recognizers are machines (e.g., Finite State Automata, Pushdown Automata, Turing Machines, ...) that, for a given string of symbols, decide if the string belongs to a given language or not.

For my research, I need to study deterministic functions that map strings to strings, i.e., $f:\Sigma^*\to\Sigma^*$. I know that some models, like Turing Machines, can be "modified" to produce a sequence of output symbols.

Is there literature where I can find a categorization of machines that maps input string to output strings? I would like to know which models exist, and their categorization (e.g., something similar to the Chomsky classification)

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    $\begingroup$ The keyword you should be looking for is "transducer", which means an automaton that produces output. $\endgroup$ Commented May 10, 2023 at 14:37
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    $\begingroup$ Well, computability theory is about functions just as much as it is about languages: all the notions of formal computability that were introduced about 100 years ago were introduced to define computable functions, not languages. Most "nice enough" notions of machines/programs induce classes of functions: recursive, primitive recursive, elementary, polynomial-time-computable, logarithmic-space-computable, first-order-computable... (continued below). $\endgroup$ Commented May 11, 2023 at 9:08
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    $\begingroup$ I don't understand. What's wrong with the usual notion of Turing machine that writes its output on one of its tapes? Maybe on a write-only, one-way output tape. I mean, the convention of how a Turing machine produces its output may change, but it's just a matter of minor details, the resulting notion of computable function is the same. What's wrong with taking a usual deterministic Turing machine, under any of these conventions, as the definition of "Turing transducer"? $\endgroup$ Commented May 11, 2023 at 20:52
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    $\begingroup$ About automata-based transducers, which are not Turing-powerful, I am not an expert at all but I do know that people study them a lot. For example, this article defines a class of functions from strings to strings and characterizes it by means of several transducers. Maybe it contains references that you will find interesting? $\endgroup$ Commented May 11, 2023 at 20:56
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    $\begingroup$ Dear Damiano, thanks a lot for sharing Boja´nczyk paper with me. I think it is going very much in the direction I am interested in it, and introduces a lot of terminology that will help my research! I'm really glad I asked! Thanks also for pointing out that Chomsky hierarchy is outdated. I am currently a researcher in machine learning, so I am not up to date in theoretical CS (my only knowledge is what I studied during my master). I wish I had two lives to study CS in depth! :) Thanks a lot for your help! $\endgroup$
    – Sam
    Commented May 15, 2023 at 8:10


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