Weis, Philipp and Immerman, Neil - Structure Theorem and Strict Alternation Hierarchy for FO^2 on Words

lmcs:1159 - Logical Methods in Computer Science, August 4, 2009, Volume 5, Issue 3
Structure Theorem and Strict Alternation Hierarchy for FO^2 on Words

Authors: Weis, Philipp and Immerman, Neil

It is well-known that every first-order property on words is expressible using at most three variables. The subclass of properties expressible with only two variables is also quite interesting and well-studied. We prove precise structure theorems that characterize the exact expressive power of first-order logic with two variables on words. Our results apply to both the case with and without a successor relation. For both languages, our structure theorems show exactly what is expressible using a given quantifier depth, n, and using m blocks of alternating quantifiers, for any m \leq n. Using these characterizations, we prove, among other results, that there is a strict hierarchy of alternating quantifiers for both languages. The question whether there was such a hierarchy had been completely open. As another consequence of our structural results, we show that satisfiability for first-order logic with two variables without successor, which is NEXP-complete in general, becomes NP-complete once we only consider alphabets of a bounded size.


Source : oai:arXiv.org:0907.0616
DOI : 10.2168/LMCS-5(3:4)2009
Volume: Volume 5, Issue 3
Published on: August 4, 2009
Submitted on: February 8, 2008
Keywords: Computer Science - Logic in Computer Science,Computer Science - Formal Languages and Automata Theory,F.4.1,F.4.3


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