Reduction Techniques for Tree Automata
Tree automata are widely used for modelling and reasoning about various kinds of structured objects such as syntactical trees, structured documents, configurations of complex systems, algebraic term representations of data or computations. For instance, in the framework of regular model checking, tree automata are used to represent and manipulate sets of configurations of infinite-state systems such as parameterized networks of processes with a tree-like topology, or programs with dynamic linked data-structures. In the above context, checking language equivalence and reducing automata wrt. the language equivalence is a fundamental issue, and performing these operations efficiently is crucial for all practical applications of tree automata. Computing a minimal canonical tree automaton is, of course, possible, but it requires determinisation, which may lead to an exponential blow-up in the size of the automaton. Therefore, even if the resulting automaton can be small, we may not be able to compute it in practice due to the very expensive determinisation step, which is, indeed, a major bottleneck when using canonical tree automata.
Computing Simulations over Tree Automata
The aim of this project is to create efficient algorithms for reducing tree automata. In particular, we consider downward and upward simulations on tree automata, which are, loosely speaking, analogous to forward and backward relations over word automata. We provide simple and efficient algorithms for computing these relations based on a reduction to the problem of computing simulations on labelled transition systems. Furthermore, we show that downward and upward relations can be combined to get relations compatible with the tree language equivalence, which can subsequently be used for an efficient size reduction of nondeterministic tree automata. This is of a very high interest, for instance, for symbolic verification methods such as regular model checking, which use tree automata to represent infinite sets of reachable configurations. We provide experimental results showing the efficiency of our algorithms on examples of tree automata taken from regular model checking computations.