# Questions tagged [fl.formal-languages]

formal languages, grammars, automata theory

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4answers
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### Is finding the minimum regular expression an NP-complete problem?

I am thinking of the following problem: I want to find a regular expression that matches a particular set of strings (for ex. valid email addresses) and doesn't match others (invalid email addresses). ...
2answers
3k 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 ...
1answer
736 views

### Do there exists polynomial size CFG that describe this finite language?

Do there exists permutations $\pi_1,\pi_2$ and polynomial size (in $|w|=n$) context free grammar that describe the finite language $\{w \pi_1(w) \pi_2(w)\}$ over alphabet $\{0,1\}$? UPDATE: For one ...
11answers
97k 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 ...
11answers
27k 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.
5answers
7k views

### Is the Chomsky-hierarchy outdated?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 ...
5answers
4k views

### Counting words accepted by a regular grammar

Given a regular language (NFA, DFA, grammar, or regex), how can the number of accepting words in a given language be counted? Both "with exactly n letters" and "with at most n letters" are of ...
1answer
413 views

### Lower bounds on the size of CFGs for specific finite languages

Consider the following natural question: Given a finite language $L$, what is the smallest context-free grammar generating $L$? We can make the question more interesting by specifying a sequence of ...
1answer
2k views

0answers
2k views

### minimizing size of regular expression

Suppose we have a regular language specified by a regex, for example, (ab|ac)* and we wish to find an equivalent regex with the minimal number of symbols, (a(b|c))*. Is there any efficient way to do ...
1answer
518 views

### Decidability of “does this CFG define a regular language”

Is the decidablity of the following question known? Given a CFG G, is L(G) regular? I've seen a bunch of decidability results in the world of CFLs, but I don't think I've ever seen this one, and can'...
6answers
2k views

### Advanced techniques for determining complexity lower bounds

Some of you may have been following this question, which was closed due to not being research level. So, I'm extracting the part of the question which is at a research level. Beyond the "simpler" ...
6answers
1k views

### Which models of computation can be expressed through grammars?

This is a reformulation of Are grammars programs? previous asked by Vag and with many suggestions from the commenters. In what way can a grammar be seen as specifying a model of computation? If, for ...
2answers
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 ...
5answers
3k views

### Recovering a parse forest from an Earley parser?

I was recently reading up on the Earley parser and think it's one of the most elegant algorithms I've seen to date. However, the algorithm in its traditional sense is a recognizer and not a parser, ...
1answer
709 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 ...
4answers
3k 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 ...
2answers
2k views

### 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 ...
5answers
726 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 ...
5answers
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 ...
1answer
779 views

### 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 ...
2answers
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 ...
1answer
364 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 ...
4answers
590 views

### Base-k representations of the co-domain of a polynomial - is it context-free?

In chapter 4 of Jeffrey Shallit's A Second Course in Automata Theory the following problem is listed as open: Let $p(n)$ be a polynomial with rational coefficients such that $p(n) \in \mathbb{N}$ for ...
3answers
424 views

### Is the complement of { www | … } context-free?

It is well-known that the complement of $\{ ww \mid w\in \Sigma^*\}$ is context-free. But what about the complement of $\{ www \mid w\in \Sigma^*\}$?
8answers
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### What are the simplest turing-complete systems? [closed]

Lambda Calculus is very simple. Are there even simpler turing-complete systems? Which is the simplest of them all?
0answers
348 views

### Are grammars programs? [closed]

Are grammars programs? That is, are languages for grammar specification programming languages? Update. Motivation for the question is follows: To know whether languages for grammars are programming ...
4answers
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 ...
2answers
1k views

### Protocol partition number and deterministic communication complexity

Besides (deterministic) communication complexity $cc(R)$ of a relation $R$, another basic measure for the amount of communication needed is the protocol partition number $pp(R)$. The relation between ...
2answers
6k views

### Is JSON a Regular Language?

I was wondering if the JSON spec defined a regular language. It seems simple enough, but I'm not sure how to prove it myself. The reason I ask, is because I was wondering if one could use regular ...
1answer
2k views

### Which formal language class are XML and JSON with unique keys?

I moved this question from stackoverflow where id got no answers. We had a similar question whether JSON is regular: JSON and XML are both frequently called to be context-free languages - they are ...
7answers
1k views

### What are regular expressions good for?

If you ask a question about parsing HTML with regex, you will certainly be referenced to this famous rant. Though there is not a canonical rant for it, I've also been told that regex aren't powerful ...
2answers
617 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 ...
3answers
849 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 ...
0answers
1k views

### Is CFL strictly contained in NL?

We know that $\mathsf{REG}=\mathsf{NSPACE}(O(1))$ and $\mathsf{CSL}=\mathsf{NSPACE}(O(n))$. What is the relation of $\mathsf{CFL}$ and $\mathsf{NSPACE}(O(\log n))=\mathsf{NL}$? Is $\mathsf{CFL}$ a ...
0answers
315 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 ...
1answer
373 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 ...
1answer
805 views

### Context-sensitive grammar for SAT?

By a classic result of Kuroda, the complexity class NSPACE[$n$] (also known as NLIN-SPACE) is precisely the class CSL of context-sensitive languages. The satisfiability problem SAT is in NSPACE[$n$], ...
3answers
389 views

### Does there exist a hardest DCFL?

Greibach famously defined a language $H$, the so-called nondeterministic version of $D_2$, such that any CFL is an inverse morphic image of $H$. Does there exist a similar statement with DCFL, ...
2answers
2k views

### Post Correspondence Problem variant

This is probably pretty simple, but consider the standard Post Correspondence Problem: Given $\alpha_1, \ldots, \alpha_N$ and $\beta_1, \ldots, \beta_N$, find a sequence of indices $i_1, \ldots, i_K$ ...
3answers
617 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 ...
0answers
340 views

### Deciding if a language induced by a Presburger formula is context-free

Is the following problem decidable? Given $n$ and a Presburger arithmetic formula $\phi(x_1,x_2,\dots,x_n)$, determine whether the language $\{a_1^{i_1} \dots a_n^{i_n}:\phi(i_1,i_2,\dots,i_n)\}$ ...
1answer
547 views

### On the relation for the Myhill-Nerode theorem/syntactic monoid of a language

In order to characterize regular languages one finds the following definition useful: Let $\Sigma$ be an alphabet and $L\subseteq\Sigma^*$. Say that $x,y\in\Sigma^*$ are $\equiv_L$-related, and ...
1answer
511 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-...