Wiki describes the binary relation $\underset{\mbox{G}}{\implies}$ as "G derives in one step". I have a question on the condition when there are multiple productions for a single non-terminal.

Wiki defines $G = (N, \Sigma, P, S)$ and $\underset{\mbox{G}}{\implies} \subset (\Sigma \cup N)^* \times (\Sigma \cup N)^*$ where:

$(\underset{\mbox{G}}{x \implies y}) \iff \exists u,v,p,q \in (\Sigma \cup N)^* : (x = upv) \land ((p, q) \in P) \land (y = uqv)$

Then $(\overset * {\underset{\mbox{G}}{x \implies y}})$ is defined as the refexive transitive closure. Therefore applying $\underset{\mbox{G}}{\implies}$ multiple times results in the language of the grammar:

$\{w \in \Sigma^* | (\overset * {\underset{\mbox{G}}{S \implies w}})\}$


For the form $(\underset{\mbox{G}}{x \implies y})$ I consider the case of multiple rules $(p,q_0), (p, q_1) \in P$ for a non-terminal $N$. If solving for $y$, $y$ will result in the string with only a single rule applied. How should the derivation happen with multiple production rules?

I can see that supplying both arguments $(\Sigma \cup N)^* \times (\Sigma \cup N)^*$ to $\underset{\mbox{G}}{x \implies y}$ will yield all derivations.

  • $\begingroup$ Nothing special happens when there are multiple rules with the same nonterminal. In fact, it is quite common. Indeed, if every nonterminal had a single rule, then the grammar would generate a single word (or no word at all). $\endgroup$ Feb 17, 2021 at 21:12

1 Answer 1


You seem to be looking for a deterministic procedure that isn't there.

With multiple production rules, you solve in every possible way. For instance, for the grammar

$S \rightarrow a \\ S \rightarrow aS$

we have

$ \underset{G}{S \implies a}, \\ \underset{G}{S \implies aS}, \\ \underset{G}{aS \implies aa}, \\ \underset{G}{aS \implies aaS}, \\ \ldots $

  • $\begingroup$ Perhaps the solution is to get all the derivations for a particular $x \in (\Sigma \cup N)$. $Derv_x= \{y | y \in (\Sigma \cup N) \land (\underset{\mbox{G}}{x \implies y})\}$. I think my confusion was the size of the set for $x$ values. $\endgroup$
    – Nick
    Feb 17, 2021 at 22:14

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