How can I create a DFA that has memory such that I could write a rule for this DFA that states transition to state B after transitioning from state A at some point (doesn't matter when. Could have been the last state or 5 states ago).

I'm not even sure if creating a DFA like this is possible, hence why I'm asking here. If it's not possible, is there any other state transition algorithm I can use

  • $\begingroup$ I don't understand that rule. Could you elaborate ? $\endgroup$
    – user16034
    Aug 9 at 14:28

3 Answers 3


By rule, I assume you mean a transition.

You can do this by first replacing the original DFA, $M$, with a new one that records whether or not an $a$ has ever been read, as follows:

  • for each state $q$ of $M$, it has two states:
    • $q_b$ ("$q$ before $a$")
    • $q_a$ ("$q$ after $a$")
  • for each transition $(q, c, r)$ of $M$, it has two transitions:
    • $(q_b, c, r_a)$ if $c = a$; $(q_b, c, r_b)$ if $c \not= a$
    • $(q_a, c, r_a)$
  • its initial state is $s_b$
  • its final states are $\cup_{q \in F} \{ q_a,q_b \}$

Now you can create a transition that only exists for $q$ after $a$ has been read by creating it for $q_a$.


I am confused by some of your terminology. By "DFA table" do you mean the DFA's transition function? Also you want a rule of the form "Accept state $B$ after accepting state $A$" but an accepting state of a DFA is (basically) a terminating state. Do you mean that $B$ should be an accepting state only after visiting $A$?

This is doable. All you need to do is create a second, duplicate copy of your DFA. Then $B$ in the original is not an accepting state while the copy of $B$ is. Finally, the only way to transition from the original to the copy is at state $A$ (if you would normally transition to $C$ when you receive input $x$ while at $A$, you now transition to the copy of $A$).

  • $\begingroup$ Sorry if I didn't explain properly. When I said "DFA" I meant a table/hashmap/dictionary of all states and their transitions. Also when I said I want "accept state B after accepting state A at some point" what I really meant was "transition to state B after transitioning to state A at some point", the important point is that I don't know when we transitioned to state "A", I just need to remember that at some point we did $\endgroup$
    – MlLearner
    Aug 8 at 4:44
  • $\begingroup$ @MlLearner just to clarify, we are talking about Deterministic Finite Automata (DFA) right? And if you want to "transition to state $B$ after transitioning to state $A$ at some point" do you mean immediately? If so you can just make that transition, right? If you mean it is only possible to transition to $B$ once you've visited $A$ then the idea in my answer still works. In the copy of the DFA that you start in, there are no transitions to $B$ and in the copy you transition to from $A$, there are transitions to $B$. $\endgroup$ Aug 8 at 15:10

Though the meaning of "transition to state B after transitioning from state A" is quite unclear, you don't need any special device to memorize if the state A has been reached or not. It suffices to define a set of states from which you can reach A, and another set of states that includes A and such that no transition returns to the first set. What you put in these sets is entirely up to you.


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