Dino Mandrioli ; Matteo Pradella ; Stefano Crespi Reghizzi - Aperiodicity, Star-freeness, and First-order Logic Definability of Operator Precedence Languages

lmcs:9684 - Logical Methods in Computer Science, November 22, 2023, Volume 19, Issue 4 - https://doi.org/10.46298/lmcs-19(4:12)2023
Aperiodicity, Star-freeness, and First-order Logic Definability of Operator Precedence LanguagesArticle

Authors: Dino Mandrioli ; Matteo Pradella ; Stefano Crespi Reghizzi

    A classic result in formal language theory is the equivalence among non-counting, or aperiodic, regular languages, and languages defined through star-free regular expressions, or first-order logic. Past attempts to extend this result beyond the realm of regular languages have met with difficulties: for instance it is known that star-free tree languages may violate the non-counting property and there are aperiodic tree languages that cannot be defined through first-order logic. We extend such classic equivalence results to a significant family of deterministic context-free languages, the operator-precedence languages (OPL), which strictly includes the widely investigated visibly pushdown, alias input-driven, family and other structured context-free languages. The OP model originated in the '60s for defining programming languages and is still used by high performance compilers; its rich algebraic properties have been investigated initially in connection with grammar learning and recently completed with further closure properties and with monadic second order logic definition. We introduce an extension of regular expressions, the OP-expressions (OPE) which define the OPLs and, under the star-free hypothesis, define first-order definable and non-counting OPLs. Then, we prove, through a fairly articulated grammar transformation, that aperiodic OPLs are first-order definable. Thus, the classic equivalence of star-freeness, aperiodicity, and first-order definability is established for the large and powerful class of OPLs. We argue that the same approach can be exploited to obtain analogous results for visibly pushdown languages too.


    Volume: Volume 19, Issue 4
    Published on: November 22, 2023
    Accepted on: August 14, 2023
    Submitted on: June 9, 2022
    Keywords: Computer Science - Formal Languages and Automata Theory,Computer Science - Logic in Computer Science

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