Register

# 4.5. Closure Properties of Regular Languages¶

## 4.5.1. Closure Concept¶

In this module, we will prove that a number of operations are closed for the set of regular languages.

Definition: A set is closed over a binary operation if, whenever that operation is applied to any two members of the set, the result is a member of the set. A set is closed over a unary operation if, when that operation is appied to any member of the set, the result is a member of the set.

Settings

Saving...
Server Error
Resubmit

Settings

Saving...
Server Error
Resubmit

Settings

Saving...
Server Error
Resubmit

Settings

Saving...
Server Error
Resubmit

Settings

Saving...
Server Error
Resubmit

## 4.5.6. Summary: How do we prove that a language is regular?¶

We just discussed a bunch of questions related to regular languages that we know how to answer. Now, what about the most important question of all that we could ask about a language (at least, in the context of regular langauges)? If I describe a language to you (in English, for example), is that language regular? This is a practical question because, if a language is known to be regular, then we have ways to formally define it. This means that key uses of the language (like deciding if a given string is in the language) can be implemented on a computer. So, a fundamental way to prove that a language is regular is to implement it using one of these ways:

• Write a DFA that accepts the language.

• Write a NFA that accepts the language.

• Write a regular expression that describes the language.

• Write a regular grammar that describes the language.

A slightly indirect way to prove that a language is regular is to define it in terms of one or more known regular languages that are manipulated by operators known to be closed for regular languages. Which is why we have spent this entire module defining a useful collection of such operators.

This begs some questions! Are there languages that are not regular? If so, how do we prove whether a language is regular or not? Notice that everything in the list above is a construction or simulation. We probably can’t prove that a language does not have some property by construction, in the way that we can prove that it does have that property by construction. Some techniques for proving that a language is not regular is the topic of the next chapter. Spoiler alert: Unfortunately, we will see that we have no definitive way to always be able to prove whether a language is regular or not. We simply have tools that sometimes let us prove that the language is regular (typically by constructing one of the representations already described) or that let us prove the language is not regular.