From computability to executability : a process-theoretic view on automata theory

P.J.A. Tilburg, van

    Research output: ThesisPhd Thesis 1 (Research TU/e / Graduation TU/e)

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    The theory of automata and formal language was devised in the 1930s to provide models for and to reason about computation. Here we mean by computation a procedure that transforms input into output, which was the sole mode of operation of computers at the time. Nowadays, computers are systems that interact with us and also each other; they are non-deterministic, reactive systems. Concurrency theory, split off from classical automata theory a few decades ago, provides a model of computation similar to the model given by the theory of automata and formal language, but focuses on concurrent, reactive and interactive systems. This thesis investigates the integration of the two theories, exposing the differences and similarities between them. Where automata and formal language theory focuses on computations and languages, concurrency theory focuses on behaviour. To achieve integration, we look for process-theoretic analogies of classic results from automata theory. The most prominent difference is that we use an interpretation of automata as labelled transition systems modulo (divergence-preserving) branching bisimilarity instead of treating automata as language acceptors. We also consider similarities such as grammars as recursive specifications and finite automata as labelled finite transition systems. We investigate whether the classical results still hold and, if not, what extra conditions are sufficient to make them hold. We especially look into three levels of Chomsky's hierarchy: we study the notions of finite-state systems, pushdown systems, and computable systems. Additionally we investigate the notion of parallel pushdown systems. For each class we define the central notion of automaton and its behaviour by associating a transition system with it. Then we introduce a suitable specification language and investigate the correspondence with the respective automaton (via its associated transition system). Because we not only want to study interaction with the environment, but also the interaction within the automaton, we make it explicit by means of communicating parallel components: one component representing the finite control of the automaton and one component representing the memory. First, we study finite-state systems by reinvestigating the relation between finite-state automata, left- and right-linear grammars, and regular expressions, but now up to (divergence-preserving) branching bisimilarity. For pushdown systems we augment the finite-state systems with stack memory to obtain the pushdown automata and consider different termination styles: termination on empty stack, on final state, and on final state and empty stack. Unlike for language equivalence, up to (divergence-preserving) branching bisimilarity the associated transition systems for the different termination styles fall into different classes. We obtain (under some restrictions) the correspondence between context-free grammars and pushdown automata for termination on final state and empty stack. We show how for contrasimulation, a weaker equivalence than branching bisimilarity, we can obtain the correspondence result without some of the restrictions. Finally, we make the interaction within a pushdown automaton explicit, but in a different way depending on the termination style. By analogy of pushdown systems we investigate the parallel pushdown systems, obtained by augmenting finite-state systems with bag memory, and consider analogous termination styles. We investigate the correspondence between context-free grammars that use parallel composition instead of sequential composition and parallel pushdown automata. While the correspondence itself is rather tight, it unfortunately only covers a small subset of the parallel pushdown automata, i.e. the single-state parallel pushdown automata. When making the interaction within parallel pushdown automata explicit, we obtain a rather uniform result for all termination styles. Finally, we study computable systems and the relation with exective and computable transition systems and Turing machines. For this we present the reactive Turing machine, a classical Turing machine augmented with capabilities for interaction. Again, we make the interaction in the reactive Turing machine between its finite control and the tape memory explicit.
    Original languageEnglish
    QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
    Awarding Institution
    • Mathematics and Computer Science
    • Baeten, Jos, Promotor
    • Luttik, S.P. (Bas), Copromotor
    Award date27 Oct 2011
    Place of PublicationEindhoven
    Print ISBNs978-90-386-2630-7
    Publication statusPublished - 2011


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