## 004 Datenverarbeitung; Informatik

Starfree regular languages can be build up from alphabet letters by using only Boolean operations and concatenation. The complexity of these languages can be measured with the so-called dot-depth. This measure leads to concatenation hierarchies like the dot-depth hierarchy (DDH) and the closely related Straubing-Thérien hierarchy (STH). The question whether the single levels of these hierarchies are decidable is still open and is known as the dot-depth problem. In this thesis we prove/reprove the decidability of some lower levels of both hierarchies. More precisely, we characterize these levels in terms of patterns in finite automata (subgraphs in the transition graph) that are not allowed. Therefore, such characterizations are called forbidden-pattern characterizations. The main results of the thesis are as follows: forbidden-pattern characterization for level 3/2 of the DDH (this implies the decidability of this level) decidability of the Boolean hierarchy over level 1/2 of the DDH definition of decidable hierarchies having close relations to the DDH and STH Moreover, we prove/reprove the decidability of the levels 1/2 and 3/2 of both hierarchies in terms of forbidden-pattern characterizations. We show the decidability of the Boolean hierarchies over level 1/2 of the DDH and over level 1/2 of the STH. A technique which uses word extensions plays the central role in the proofs of these results. With this technique it is possible to treat the levels 1/2 and 3/2 of both hierarchies in a uniform way. Furthermore, it can be used to prove the decidability of the mentioned Boolean hierarchies. Among other things we provide a combinatorial tool that allows to partition words of arbitrary length into factors of bounded length such that every second factor u leads to a loop with label u in a given finite automaton.

The thesis looks at the question asking for the computability of the dot-depth of star-free regular languages. Here one has to determine for a given star-free regular language the minimal number of alternations between concatenation on one hand, and intersection, union, complement on the other hand. This question was first raised in 1971 (Brzozowski/Cohen) and besides the extended star-heights problem usually refered to as one of the most difficult open questions on regular languages. The dot-depth problem can be captured formally by hierarchies of classes of star-free regular languages B(0), B(1/2), B(1), B(3/2),... and L(0), L(1/2), L(1), L(3/2),.... which are defined via alternating the closure under concatenation and Boolean operations, beginning with single alphabet letters. Now the question of dot-depth is the question whether these hierarchy classes have decidable membership problems. The thesis makes progress on this question using the so-called forbidden pattern approach: Classes of regular languages are characterized in terms of patterns in finite automata (subgraphs in the transition graph) that are not allowed. Such a characterization immediately implies the decidability of the respective class, since the absence of a certain pattern in a given automaton can be effectively verified. Before this work, the decidability of B(0), B(1/2), B(1) and L(0), L(1/2), L(1), L(3/2) were known. Here a detailed study of these classes with help of forbidden patterns is given which leads to new insights into their inner structure. Furthermore, the decidability of B(3/2) is proven. Based on these results a theory of pattern iteration is developed which leads to the introduction of two new hierarchies of star-free regular languages. These hierarchies are decidable on one hand, on the other hand they are in close connection to the classes B(n) and L(n). It remains an open question here whether they may in fact coincide. Some evidence is given in favour of this conjecture which opens a new way to attack the dot-depth problem. Moreover, it is shown that the class L(5/2) is decidable in the restricted case of a two-letter alphabet.