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Finite-State Abstractions For Probabilistic Computation Tree Logic

Daniel Wagner

PhD Thesis
February, 2011
Imperial College London, Department of Computing

Probabilistic Computation Tree Logic (PCTL) is the established temporal logic for probabilistic verification of discrete-time Markov chains. Probabilistic model checking is a technique that verifies or refutes whether a property specified in this logic holds in a Markov chain. But Markov chains are often infinite or too large for this technique to apply. A standard solution to this problem is to convert the Markov chain to an abstract model and to model check that abstract model. The problem this thesis therefore studies is whether or when such finite abstractions of Markov chains for model checking PCTL exist. This thesis makes the following contributions. We identify a sizable fragment of PCTL for which 3-valued Markov chains can serve as finite abstractions; this fragment is maximal for those abstractions and subsumes many practically relevant specifications including, e.g., reachability. We also develop game-theoretic foundations for the semantics of PCTL over Markov chains by capturing the standard PCTL semantics via a two-player games. These games, finally, inspire a notion of p-automata, which accept entire Markov chains. We show that p-automata subsume PCTL and Markov chains; that their languages of Markov chains have pleasant closure properties; and that the complexity of deciding acceptance matches that of probabilistic model checking for p-automata representing PCTL formulae. In addition, we offer a simulation between p-automata that under-approximates language containment. These results then allow us to show that p-automata comprise a solution to the problem studied in this thesis.

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This is the corrected version of said thesis, as approved by the examiners.

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