Tomáš Masopust ; Markus Krötzsch - Partially Ordered Automata and Piecewise Testability

lmcs:5900 - Logical Methods in Computer Science, May 11, 2021, Volume 17, Issue 2
Partially Ordered Automata and Piecewise Testability

Authors: Tomáš Masopust ; Markus Krötzsch

Partially ordered automata are automata where the transition relation induces a partial order on states. The expressive power of partially ordered automata is closely related to the expressivity of fragments of first-order logic on finite words or, equivalently, to the language classes of the levels of the Straubing-Thérien hierarchy. Several fragments (levels) have been intensively investigated under various names. For instance, the fragment of first-order formulae with a single existential block of quantifiers in prenex normal form is known as piecewise testable languages or $J$-trivial languages. These languages are characterized by confluent partially ordered DFAs or by complete, confluent, and self-loop-deterministic partially ordered NFAs (ptNFAs for short). In this paper, we study the complexity of basic questions for several types of partially ordered automata on finite words; namely, the questions of inclusion, equivalence, and ($k$-)piecewise testability. The lower-bound complexity boils down to the complexity of universality. The universality problem asks whether a system recognizes all words over its alphabet. For ptNFAs, the complexity of universality decreases if the alphabet is fixed, but it is open if the alphabet may grow with the number of states. We show that deciding universality for general ptNFAs is as hard as for general NFAs. Our proof is a novel and nontrivial extension of our recent construction for self-loop-deterministic partially ordered NFAs, a model strictly more expressive than ptNFAs. We provide a comprehensive picture of the complexities of the problems of inclusion, equivalence, and ($k$-)piecewise testability for the considered types of automata.

Volume: Volume 17, Issue 2
Published on: May 11, 2021
Submitted on: November 11, 2019
Keywords: Computer Science - Logic in Computer Science,Computer Science - Formal Languages and Automata Theory


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