Antichains: A New Algorithm for Checking Universality of Finite Automata

Martin De Wulf, Laurent Doyen, Thomas A. Henzinger, and Jean-Francois Raskin

We propose and evaluate a new algorithm for checking the universality of nondeterministic finite automata. In contrast to the standard algorithm, which uses the subset construction to explicitly determinize the automaton, we keep the determinization step implicit. Our algorithm computes the least fixed point of a monotone function on the lattice of antichains of state sets. We evaluate the performance of our algorithm experimentally using the random automaton model recently proposed by Tabakov and Vardi. We show that on the difficult instances of this probabilistic model, the antichain algorithm outperforms the standard one by several orders of magnitude. We also show how variations of the antichain method can be used for solving the language-inclusion problem for nondeterministic finite automata, and the emptiness problem for alternating finite automata.

Proceedings of the 18th International Conference on Computer-Aided Verification (CAV), Lecture Notes in Computer Science 4144, Springer, 2006, pp. 17-30.

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