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Reachability problems for systems with linear dynamics

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posted on 31.08.2016, 14:07 by Shang Chen
This thesis deals with reachability and freeness problems for systems with linear dynamics, including hybrid systems and matrix semigroups. Hybrid systems are a type of dynamical system that exhibit both continuous and discrete dynamic behaviour. Thus they are particularly useful in modelling practical real world systems which can both flow (continuous behaviour) and jump (discrete behaviour). Decision questions for matrix semigroups have attracted a great deal of attention in both the Mathematics and Theoretical Computer Science communities. They can also be used to model applications with only discrete components. For a computational model, the reachability problem asks whether we can reach a target point starting from an initial point, which is a natural question both in theoretical study and for real-world applications. By studying this problem and its variations, we shall prove in a formal mathematical sense that many problems are intractable or even unsolvable. Thus we know when such a problem appears in other areas like Biology, Physics or Chemistry, either the problem itself needs to be simplified, or it should by studied by approximation. In this thesis we concentrate on a specific hybrid system model, called an HPCD, and its variations. The objective of studying this model is twofold: to obtain the most expressive system for which reachability is algorithmically solvable and to explore the simplest system for which it is impossible to solve. For the solvable sub-cases, we shall also study whether reachability is in some sense easy or hard by determining which complexity classes the problem belongs to, such as P, NP(-hard) and PSPACE(-hard). Some undecidable results for matrix semigroups are also shown, which both strengthen our knowledge of the structure of matrix semigroups, and lead to some undecidability results for other models.


Graduate School, Loughborough University



  • Science


  • Computer Science


© Shang Chen

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A Doctoral Thesis. Submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the award of Doctor of Philosophy of Loughborough University.