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Questions tagged [automata-theory]

Automata Theory, including abstract machines, grammars, parsing, grammatical inference, transducers, and finite-state techniques

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Deciding emptiness of intersection of regular languages in subquadratic time

Let $L_1,L_2$ be two regular languages given by NFAs $M_1,M_2$ as input. Assume we would like to check whether $L_1\cap L_2\neq \emptyset$. This can clearly be done by a quadratic algorithm which ...
R B's user avatar
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50 votes
5 answers
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Is the Chomsky-hierarchy outdated?

The Chomsky(–Schützenberger) hierarchy is used in textbooks of theoretical computer science, but it obviously only covers a very small fraction of formal languages (REG, CFL, CSL, RE) compared to the ...
Jakob's user avatar
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23 votes
2 answers
4k views

computing the minimal NFA for a DFA

Many years ago I heard that computing the minimal NFA (nondeterministic finite automaton) from a DFA (deterministic) was an open question, as opposed to the vice versa direction which has been known ...
vzn's user avatar
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18 votes
2 answers
840 views

Bounds on the size of the smallest NFA for L_k-distinct

Consider the language $L_{k-distinct}$ consisting of all $k$-letter strings over $\Sigma$ such that no two letters are equal: $$ L_{k-distinct} :=\{w = \sigma_1\sigma_2...\sigma_k \mid \forall i\in[k]...
R B's user avatar
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261 votes
11 answers
100k views

What is the enlightenment I'm supposed to attain after studying finite automata?

I've been revising Theory of Computation for fun and this question has been nagging me for a while (funny never thought of it when I learnt Automata Theory in my undergrad). So "why" exactly do we ...
PhD's user avatar
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39 votes
12 answers
32k views

Books on automata theory for self-study

I need a finite automata theory book with lots of examples that I can use for self-study and to prepare for exams.
20 votes
1 answer
3k views

What is the number of languages accepted by a DFA of size $n$?

The question is simple and direct: For a fixed $n$, how many (different) languages are accepted by a DFA of size $n$ (i.e. $n$ states)? I will formally state this: Define a DFA as $(Q,\Sigma,\delta,...
Janoma's user avatar
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40 votes
14 answers
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How practical is Automata Theory?

There is always a way for application in topics related to theoretical computer science. But textbooks and undergraduate courses usually don't explain the reason that automata theory is an important ...
Dark Templar's user avatar
40 votes
6 answers
6k views

Regular expressions aren't

Ask even someone with a background in computer science what a regular expression is, and the answer is likely to go beyond the constraint of being within reach of a finite-state automaton. For ...
Greg Bacon's user avatar
25 votes
1 answer
1k views

Finding the smallest DFA that separates two words without using brute force search?

Given two strings x and y, I want to build a minimum size DFA that accepts x and rejects y. One way to do this is brute force search. You enumerate DFA's starting with the smallest. You try each ...
Michael Wehar's user avatar
19 votes
3 answers
1k views

Is the concept of the Turing Machine derived from automata?

I was just recently having a discussion about Turing Machines when I was asked, "Is the Turing Machine derived from automata, or is it the other way around"? I didn't know the answer of course, but I'...
Emmanuel M. Smith's user avatar
16 votes
2 answers
993 views

Regular versus TC0

According to the Complexity Zoo, $\mathsf{Reg} \subseteq \mathsf{NC^1}$ and we know that $\mathsf{Reg}$ cannot count so $\mathsf{TC^0} \not\subseteq \mathsf{Reg}$. However it doesn't say if $\mathsf{...
Kaveh's user avatar
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4 votes
3 answers
721 views

How to minimize a FSM transducer?

In contrast to FSM minimization which is well studied with various algorithms, theorems and has many practical applications, I'm looking for any nontrivial insight, analysis and references to the ...
vzn's user avatar
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32 votes
1 answer
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Eilenberg's rational hierarchy of nonrational automata & languages -- where is it now?

In the preface to his very influential books Automata, Languages and Machines (Volumes A, B), Samuel Eilenberg tantalizingly promised Volumes C and D dealing with "a hierarchy (called the rational ...
David Lewis's user avatar
31 votes
2 answers
2k views

Is {$a^{i}b^{j}c^{k} ~|~ i \neq j, i \neq k, j \neq k$} non-context-free?

Is the language {$a^{i}b^{j}c^{k} ~|~ i \neq j, i \neq k, j \neq k$} context-free or not? I realized that I have encountered almost all variants of this question with different conditions about the ...
Cem Say's user avatar
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30 votes
4 answers
1k views

Are there "small" machines which can efficiently match regular expressions?

It's well-known that a regular expression can be recognized by a nondeterministic finite automaton of size proportional to the regular expression, or by a deterministic FA which is potentially ...
Neel Krishnaswami's user avatar
29 votes
2 answers
2k views

Conditions for NFA universality

Consider a nondeterministic finite automata $A = (Q, \Sigma, \delta, q_0, F)$, and a function $f(n)$. Additionally we define $\Sigma^{\leq k} = \bigcup_{i \leq k} \Sigma^i$. Now lets analyze the ...
Mike B.'s user avatar
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29 votes
2 answers
2k views

How many DFAs accept two given strings?

Fix an integer $n$ and alphabet $\Sigma=\{0,1\}$. Define $DFA(n)$ to be the collection of all finite-state automata on $n$ states with starting state 1. We are considering all DFAs (not just connected,...
Aryeh's user avatar
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26 votes
2 answers
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Context Sensitive Grammars and Types

1) What, if any, is the relationship between static typing and formal grammars? 2) In particular, would it be possible for a linear bounded automaton to check whether, say, a C++ or SML program was ...
Diogenes Creosote's user avatar
26 votes
4 answers
1k views

Is there a non Turing-complete model of computation whose halting problem is undecidable?

I cannot think of any such model, maybe some form of typed lambda calculus? some elementary cellular automaton? This would almost disprove Wolfram's "Principle of Computational Equivalence": ...
didest's user avatar
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23 votes
2 answers
559 views

Testing whether letters can be scheduled to achieve a word in a regular language

I fix a regular language $L$ on an alphabet $\Sigma$, and I consider the following problem that I call letter scheduling for $L$. Informally, the input gives me $n$ letters and an interval for each ...
a3nm's user avatar
  • 9,517
23 votes
1 answer
992 views

Languages recognized by polynomial-size DFAs

For a fixed finite alphabet $\Sigma$, a formal language $L$ over $\Sigma$ is regular if there exists a deterministic finite automaton (DFA) over $\Sigma$ which accepts exactly $L$. I am interested in ...
a3nm's user avatar
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23 votes
1 answer
578 views

For which regular expressions $\alpha$ is $\{ \beta \mid L(\alpha) = L(\beta) \}$ PSPACE-complete?

It is well known that the following problem is PSPACE-complete: Given regular expression $\beta$, does $L(\beta) = \Sigma^*$? What about determining equivalence to other (fixed) regular expressions $...
mikero's user avatar
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22 votes
4 answers
4k views

Where do most REGEX implementations fall on the complexity scale?

Most modern implementations of regular expressions, such as the ones in perl or .NET, go beyond the classical computer science definition of REGEXes with features like lookahead and lookbehind. Do ...
Dan Monego's user avatar
21 votes
5 answers
859 views

What notable automaton models have polynomially-decidable containment?

I'm trying to solve a particular problem, and I thought I might be able to solve it using automata theory. I'm wondering, what models of automata have containment decidable in polynomial time? i.e. if ...
Joey Eremondi's user avatar
19 votes
1 answer
467 views

Conjecture about two counters automata

I would like to prove (or disprove) the following conjecture: Conjecture: a two counter automata (2CA) cannot decide the following language: $L = \{ n \mid $ the ternary and binary representations ...
Marzio De Biasi's user avatar
17 votes
2 answers
807 views

How small can a NFA be, compared to the minimal Unambiguous Finite Automaton (UFA) of the same regular language?

Unambiguous Finite Automatons (UFA) are special type of non-deterministic finite automatons (NFA). A NFA is called unambiguous if every word $w\in \Sigma^*$ has at most one accepting path. This ...
R B's user avatar
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17 votes
1 answer
971 views

Quadratic relationship between nondeterministic and deterministic space?

Savitch's theorem shows that $\mathrm{NSPACE}(f(n)) \subseteq \mathrm{DSPACE}(f(n)^2)$ for all large enough functions $f$, and proving that this is tight has been an open problem for decades. Suppose ...
András Salamon's user avatar
17 votes
3 answers
1k views

Properties of Random Directed Graphs with Fixed Out-Degree

I am interested in properties of random directed graphs with fixed out-degree $d$. I am imagining a random graph model where each vertex chooses d neighbors (say, with replacement) u.a.r. ...
Lev Reyzin's user avatar
  • 12k
17 votes
1 answer
2k views

Are DPDAs without a $\epsilon$ moves as powerful as DPDAs with them?

In the formal description of Deterministic Pushdown Automata, they allow $\epsilon$ moves, where the machine can pop or push symbols onto the stack without reading a symbol from the input. If these $\...
Phylliida's user avatar
  • 1,142
16 votes
0 answers
453 views

Is this problem on unambiguous finite automata NP-complete?

An unambiguous finite automaton (UFA) is a nondeterministic finite automaton (NFA) such that each word has at most one accepting path. In this post, for $n\in \mathbb{N}$, what I call an $n$-UFA (resp....
M.Monet's user avatar
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16 votes
1 answer
389 views

Compared growth of the number of syntactic classes and Nerode classes.

For a language L ⊆ Σ^*, define the syntactic congruence ≡ of L as the least congruence on Σ^* that saturates L, i.e. : u ≡ v ⇔ (∀ x, y)[xuy ∈ L ↔ xvy ∈ L]. Now define the Nerode equivalence as the ...
Michaël Cadilhac's user avatar
14 votes
3 answers
1k views

The significance of state complexity in automata and regular languages?

I'm reading "Concatenation of Regular Languages and Descriptional Complexity" by Galina Jiraskova, 2009 on the state complexity resulting from concatenation of two regular languages ( by Galina ...
Airmine's user avatar
  • 143
14 votes
1 answer
5k views

What algorithms exist for construction a DFA that recognizes the language described by a given regex?

All of my textbooks use the same algorithm for producing a DFA given a regex: First, make an NFA that recognizes the language of the regex, then, using the subset (aka "powerset") construction, ...
BlueBomber's user avatar
13 votes
0 answers
354 views

Survey on infinite alphabet automata?

The paper "Symbolic Finite State Transducers, Algorithms and Applications" by Bjorner et al (to appear at POPL 2012) describes one type of finite-state, infinite-alphabet automata/transducers by using ...
Huck Bennett's user avatar
  • 4,908
12 votes
3 answers
803 views

A "simple" language outside $CFL \cup coCFL$?

I am looking for a language L with the following properties: L should not be context-free. L's complement should not be context-free. (Everything you see in textbooks as prime examples of non-context-...
Cem Say's user avatar
  • 823
12 votes
1 answer
892 views

The Cost of an Equivalence Query for DFA

Inspired by this question, I am curious about the following: What is the worst-case complexity of checking whether a given DFA accepts the same language as a given regular expression? Is this ...
Lev Reyzin's user avatar
  • 12k
11 votes
2 answers
5k views

2DFA that requires many states in equivalent DFA?

Is there a 2DFA with $n$ states (where $n$ is nontrivial, say at least 4) that requires at least $2^n$ states to simulate using any DFA? A two-way DFA (2DFA) is a deterministic finite-state automaton ...
András Salamon's user avatar
11 votes
3 answers
1k views

Maximum shortest word accepted by pushdown automata

Given a fixed alphabet, consider all deterministic pushdown automata with $n$ states that accept a nonempty language. What is the maximum length of the shortest word accepted by a deterministic ...
Antimony's user avatar
  • 917
11 votes
2 answers
428 views

Bounds on this Strategy for Separating Words

Question Given binary string $z \in \{0,1\}^n$, let $f(z)$ be the smallest integer $k$ such that there exists a DFA with $k$ states, such that reading $z$ from a specific starting state, we end at a ...
Zach Hunter's user avatar
10 votes
1 answer
265 views

Is it decidable whether the output length of a transducer is bounded by the input length?

The transducers considered here are those Wikipedia calls finite state transducers. The behavior of a transducer $T$, that is, the relation it computes, is written $[T]$: a word $y$ is an output for $...
vzn's user avatar
  • 11k
10 votes
1 answer
352 views

The complexity of conversion from a regular expression to a nondeterminsitic automata and back after changing initial and final states

Suppose that a regular expression $\mathcal{R}$ over an alphabet $\Sigma$ is given. It is well-known that one can now construct a non-deterministic finite automaton $\mathcal{A}$ such that $\mathcal{R}...
Bartosz Bednarczyk's user avatar
10 votes
5 answers
4k views

Automata Theory / Formal Language Thesis Topic

Hey All, I'm currently trying to find a solid masters thesis topic pertaining to some branch of automata theory or related to formal languages. I'm trying to generate some good ideas for what an ...
Vincent Russo's user avatar
9 votes
1 answer
550 views

Measurable language which is not $\omega$-regular

Let $\Sigma$ be a finite alphabet and let $\Sigma^\omega$ be the set of all infinite words over $\Sigma$. Consider $$ d(x,y):=2^{-\min(n \in \Bbb N_0:x_n\neq y_n)} $$ to be the metric on $\Sigma^\...
SBF's user avatar
  • 407
9 votes
4 answers
3k views

Proving the set of powers of 2 over ternary alphabet to be non regular.

It's simple to see that the powers of 2 over alphabet {0,1} is regular because $10^*$ is a regular expression for it. But the powers of 2 represented in ternary appears to be non regular. Pumping ...
user avatar
8 votes
1 answer
361 views

Converting 2-ambiguous NFA to unambiguous NFA

This must be known, but somehow I can't locate a reference about this. Let $A$ be a nondeterministic finite automaton (NFA) over words of an alphabet $\Sigma$. I say that $A$ is unambigous if, for ...
a3nm's user avatar
  • 9,517
8 votes
1 answer
405 views

Lower bound for NFA accepting 3 letter language

Related to a recent question (Bounds on the size of the smallest NFA for L_k-distinct) Noam Nisan asked for a method to give a better lower bound for the size of an NFA than what we get from ...
domotorp's user avatar
  • 14k
7 votes
1 answer
668 views

Shortest string in the intersection of a context-free language and a regular language

For a language $X$, define $ss(X) = \min_{x\in X} |x|$, the length of the shortest string in $X$. For simplicity, we define $ss(\emptyset)=0$. Let $L$ be a context-free language generated by a context-...
Chao Xu's user avatar
  • 4,479
7 votes
0 answers
156 views

Has a result of Book and Greibach on Quasi-Realtime languages been improved?

Quasi-realtime languages are defined as languages accepted by nondeterministic multitape Turing machines in quasi-real time. Ronald Book and Sheila Greibach have shown in their 1970 paper that every ...
042's user avatar
  • 270
7 votes
0 answers
374 views

Examples of non-CSLs not created through diagonalization

Hopcroft & Ullman 1979, Intro to Automata Theory, Languages, & Computation states (p. 224) that "almost any language one can think of is CSL; the only known proofs that certain languages are ...
vzn's user avatar
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