Good for Games Automata: From Nondeterminism to Alternation

Authors Udi Boker, Karoliina Lehtinen

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Udi Boker
  • Interdisciplinary Center (IDC) Herzliya, Israel
Karoliina Lehtinen
  • University of Liverpool, United Kingdom


We thank Orna Kupferman for suggesting to look into alternating good-for-games automata and for stimulating discussions on the subject, and Thomas Colcombet for introducing to us his work on alternating history-deterministic automata.

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Udi Boker and Karoliina Lehtinen. Good for Games Automata: From Nondeterminism to Alternation. In 30th International Conference on Concurrency Theory (CONCUR 2019). Leibniz International Proceedings in Informatics (LIPIcs), Volume 140, pp. 19:1-19:16, Schloss Dagstuhl – Leibniz-Zentrum für Informatik (2019)


A word automaton recognizing a language L is good for games (GFG) if its composition with any game with winning condition L preserves the game’s winner. While all deterministic automata are GFG, some nondeterministic automata are not. There are various other properties that are used in the literature for defining that a nondeterministic automaton is GFG, including "history-deterministic", "compliant with some letter game", "good for trees", and "good for composition with other automata". The equivalence of these properties has not been formally shown. We generalize all of these definitions to alternating automata and show their equivalence. We further show that alternating GFG automata are as expressive as deterministic automata with the same acceptance conditions and indices. We then show that alternating GFG automata over finite words, and weak automata over infinite words, are not more succinct than deterministic automata, and that determinizing Büchi and co-Büchi alternating GFG automata involves a 2^{Theta(n)} state blow-up. We leave open the question of whether alternating GFG automata of stronger acceptance conditions allow for doubly-exponential succinctness compared to deterministic automata.

Subject Classification

ACM Subject Classification
  • Theory of computation → Logic and verification
  • Good for games
  • history-determinism
  • alternation


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