Suppose you're given a DFA $M$ with a 5 tuple of $(Q, \Sigma, \delta, q_0, F)$.

How do you construct an NFA that accepts $L(M)$ and $\{\varepsilon\}$, the set containing the empty string? I know that a DFA is an NFA.

My thought is that you would simply add a new transition from the start state to the accepting state, which takes epsilon/the empty string.

For example (eps. is epsilon/empty string):

enter image description here

Since I've added an empty string transition, the machine is no longer a DFA, but it is an an NFA.


1 Answer 1


You've got the right idea, but there's a slight bug. If you add an $\varepsilon$-transition from the start state to all accepting states, then the new machine recognizes a subtly different language. Let $L_k = \{w_1 \cdots w_k : \exists u_1, \dots, u_{k-1} \in L(M) \text{ such that } w_1 u_1 w_2 \cdots u_{k-1} w_k \in L(M)\}$. Note that $L_1 = L(M)$. This new machine will recognize the union of the $L_k$, i.e., it recognizes $\bigcup_{k=1}^{\infty} L_k$.

Instead, you can create a new state $q_{\text{empty}}$, add an $\varepsilon$-transition from $q_0$ to $q_{\text{empty}}$, and take the new set of accepting states to be $F \cup \{q_{\text{empty}}\}$.

  • $\begingroup$ This is an important distinction, particularly to a beginner. Thank you for pointing it out. $\endgroup$
    – J. Cash
    Sep 24, 2019 at 4:29
  • $\begingroup$ I previously made a mistake in determining the language accepted by your proposed construction; see the updated answer for a correct description of what happens when you add an $\varepsilon$-transition from the start state to the final states. My previous answer implicitly assumed there were no transitions leading back to the start state. $\endgroup$ Sep 24, 2019 at 13:00

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