Nested weighted automata
Recently there has been a significant effort to handle quantitative properties in formal verification and synthesis. While weighted automata over finite and infinite words provide a natural and flexible framework to express quantitative properties, perhaps surprisingly, some basic system properties such as average response time cannot be expressed using weighted automata or in any other known decidable formalism. In this work, we introduce nested weighted automata as a natural extension of weighted automata, which makes it possible to express important quantitative properties such as average response time. In nested weighted automata, a master automaton spins off and collects results from weighted slave automata, each of which computes a quantity along a finite portion of an infinite word. Nested weighted automata can be viewed as the quantitative analogue of monitor automata, which are used in runtime verification. We establish an almost-complete decidability picture for the basic decision problems about nested weighted automata and illustrate their applicability in several domains. In particular, nested weighted automata can be used to decide average response time properties.
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ACM