I think I understand the theoretical definition of decidable and undecidable languages but I am struggling with their examples.

A(DFA) = {(M, w): M is a deterministic finite automaton that accepts the string w}

A(TM) = {(M, w): M is a turing machine that accepts the string w}

I know that A(DFA) is decidable and A(TM) is not. But, is A(DFA) a subset of A(TM)?

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    – D.W.
    Commented Apr 30, 2016 at 21:42
  • $\begingroup$ I edited the question. Does it fit the guidelines now? $\endgroup$ Commented May 1, 2016 at 3:02

1 Answer 1


No, A(DFA) is not necessarily a subset of A(TM). When you write "(M, w)" you actually refer to some encoding of M in some alphabet (usually {0,1}). These encodings of DFAs and TMs can be very different.

For a simple example: Let $A_1, A_2, \dots$ be an enumeration of all DFAs, and let $M_1, M_2, \dots$ be an enumeration of all TMs. You could say that you encode $A_i$ as the word $0 \text{bin}(i)$ and $M_i$ as $1 \text{bin}(i)$, where $\text{bin}(i)$ is the binary representation of the number $i$. Then the two langauges you presented are disjunct.

As it seems that this is part of your question: Being a subset and being computationally easier do not relate. Take the set $\Sigma^*$ of all possible words. It is easily decidable (even by a DFA) but every language, even undecidable ones, are subsets of it.


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