Skip to Main content Skip to Navigation

Decidable characterizations for tree logics

Abstract : In this thesis we investigate the expressive power of several logics over finite trees. In particular we want to understand precisely the expressive power of first-order logic over finite trees. Because we study many logics, we proceed by comparison to a logic that subsumes them all and serves as a yardstick: monadic second-order logic. Each logic we consider is a fragment of monadic second-order logic. MSO is linked to the theory of formal languages. To each logical formula corresponds a tree language, which is the language of trees satisfying this formula. Furthermore, given a logic we can associate a class of tree languages: the class of languages definable by a formula of this logic. In the setting of finite trees MSO corresponds exactly to the class of regular tree languages. Given a logic, we actually look for a decidable characterization of the class of languages defined in this logic. By decidable characterization, we mean an algorithm for solving the following problem: given as input a finite tree automaton, decide if the recognized language belongs to the class in question. We will actually obtain our decidable characterizations by exhibiting for each class a set of closure properties such that a language is in the class under investigation if and only if it satisfies these closure properties. Each such closure property is then shown to be decidable. Stating and proving such closure properties usually yields a solid understanding of the expressive power of the corresponding logic. The main open problem in this research area is to obtain a decidable characterization for the class of tree languages that are definable in first-order logic. We provide decidable characterizations for several fragments of FO. First we provide three decidable characterizations for classes of regular languages of trees of bounded rank. The first class we consider is the class of languages definable in the temporal logic EF+F^-1. It essentially navigates the trees using two modalities for moving to a descendant node or an ancestor node. The second class we consider is the class of trees of bounded rank definable using one quantifier alternation. The last class, is the class of languages definable using a boolean combination of existential first order formulas. In the setting of forests, we investigate the class of languages definable in first-order logic using only two variables and two prediactes corresponding respectively to the ancestor and following sibling relations. We provide a characterization for this logic. The last class for which we provide a decidable characterization is the class of locally testable language (LT). A language L is in LT if membership in L depends only on the presence or absence of neighborhoods of a certain fixed size in the tree. We define notions of LT for both unranked trees and trees of bounded rank by adapting the definition of neighborhood to each setting. Then we provide a decidable characterization for both notions of LT.
Document type :
Complete list of metadatas

Cited literature [32 references]  Display  Hide  Download
Contributor : Abes Star :  Contact
Submitted on : Wednesday, October 24, 2012 - 11:42:12 AM
Last modification on : Thursday, July 2, 2020 - 5:26:02 PM
Long-term archiving on: : Friday, January 25, 2013 - 3:43:23 AM


Version validated by the jury (STAR)


  • HAL Id : tel-00744954, version 1



Thomas Place. Decidable characterizations for tree logics. Other [cs.OH]. École normale supérieure de Cachan - ENS Cachan, 2010. English. ⟨NNT : 2010DENS0050⟩. ⟨tel-00744954⟩



Record views


Files downloads