Automata simulators?
January 28, 2013 1:42 PM   Subscribe

What are the best automata (formal language theory) simulators? This is mainly for teaching purposes. I have used JFLAP in past iterations of the class in question, and my google searches suggest this is still the best option, but I was wondering if there is anything newer and better that I'm not finding. Details below.

Ideal: can do DFAs, NFAs, PDAs, Turing machines, and at least some grammar formalisms. I would love tools that could demo some of the more obscure machines as well (e.g. two-tape turing machines, linear bounded automata, etc) but asking for a lot of these is probably hoping for too much; JFLAP has the best coverage of any of these apps that I know. I would prefer something cross-platform so students can run it themselves, but will consider anything, even ipad apps if they exist. I'm also interested in hearing about specialized tools that do one or a few kinds of machines very well, or have especially pretty visualization, or whatever.

Also, because this is coming up in searches a lot, I'm not interesting in cellular automata simulators. I'm aware that JFLAP is working on a redesign but the class will be long over by their projected release date.
posted by advil to Education (4 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I realized I accidentally left the most basic constraint implicit: I do want something that has decent visualization that I can project.
posted by advil at 1:47 PM on January 28, 2013

I think we used LNKnet when I took a similar class with Bob Frank about 8 years ago. It wasn't bad. I could be wrong, and it's been a while.
posted by Nomyte at 1:49 PM on January 28, 2013

Oh, hello, you two. Not sure this is terribly helpful, but I have a vague recollection of using something, back in 2002-2004, when I took "a similar class". It may have just been JFLAP. There's a non-zero chance I found something else and installed it on my (Windows 2000) desktop, which I still own.. in storage 4000 miles from here. I've shared this with a few colleagues on other media & will see if anything else rises. Good luck!
posted by knile at 8:04 AM on January 29, 2013

Thanks you two...guess it says something (not sure what) that everyone involved in this thread so far is talking about different instances of the same course!

LNKnet is interesting and I haven't looked at it before, but I think Bob must have done some PDP or neural network stuff if he used it, because I don't think it does the types of automata I tend to focus on.
posted by advil at 5:34 PM on January 29, 2013

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