Synchronizing Times for $k$-sets in Automata

  • Natalie Behague
  • Robert Johnson


An automaton is synchronizing if there is a word that maps all states onto the same state. Černý's conjecture on the length of the shortest such word is probably the most famous open problem in automata theory. We consider the closely related question of determining the minimum length of a word that maps $k$ states onto a single state.

For synchronizing automata, we improve the upper bound on the minimum length of a word that sends some triple to a a single state from $0.5n^2$ to $\approx 0.19n^2$. We further extend this to an improved bound on the length of such a word for 4 states and 5 states.

In the case of non-synchronizing automata, we give an example to show that the minimum length of a word that sends $k$ states to a single state can be as large as $\Theta\left(n^{k-1}\right)$.

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