My university's automata theory book claims that the following claim can be proved by induction but it doesn't bother showing the proof.

I've tried to prove it myself but I got stuck at the Inductive Step.

Let $G=(V,T,P,S)$ be a context free grammar.

Prove by induction on $n$ where $n\geq 1$ that:

For every $w\in T^*$ and for every $\alpha\in (V\cup T)^+$ , if $\alpha \Rightarrow^n w$ then $\alpha \overset{_{lm}}{\Rightarrow}^n w$


$\forall w\in T^*, \forall \alpha\in (V\cup T)^+, \alpha \Rightarrow^n w \rightarrow \alpha \overset{_{lm}}{\Rightarrow}^n w$

(The leftmost derivation relation is denoted as $\overset{_{lm}}{\Rightarrow}$)

(From a high level point of view the claim says that if some terminal word $w$ can be derived form $\alpha\in (V\cup T)^+$ then there exist a leftmost derivation to derive $w$ from $\alpha$)

My try:


If $n=1$ then we must show that $\forall w\in T^*, \forall \alpha\in (V\cup T)^+, \alpha \Rightarrow^1 w \rightarrow \alpha \overset{_{lm}}{\Rightarrow}^1 w$:

Let $w\in T^*$ and let $\alpha\in (V\cup T)^+$ such that $\alpha \Rightarrow^1 w$.

by definition of the $\Rightarrow$ relation we get that:

$\exists \psi,\chi,\gamma\in(V\cup T)^*, \exists A\in V, \alpha = \psi A \chi \land w=\psi \gamma \chi \land (A\rightarrow \gamma)\in P$

Now since $w\in T^*$ and since $w=\psi\gamma\chi$ we get that $\psi \in T^*$ and so:

$\exists \psi\in T^*,\exists \chi,\gamma\in(V\cup T)^*, \exists A\in V, \alpha = \psi A \chi \land w=\psi \gamma \chi \land (A\rightarrow \gamma)\in P$

And we get by definition of $\overset{_{lm}}{\Rightarrow}$ relation that $\alpha \overset{_{lm}}{\Rightarrow} w$ as was to be shown.

Induction hypothesis

Suppose that for some $n=k\geq 1$ we get: $\forall w\in T^*, \forall \alpha\in (V\cup T)^+, \alpha \Rightarrow^k w \rightarrow \alpha \overset{_{lm}}{\Rightarrow}^k w$

Induction step

Now we'll prove that: $\forall w\in T^*, \forall \alpha\in (V\cup T)^+, \alpha \Rightarrow^{k+1} w \rightarrow \alpha \overset{_{lm}}{\Rightarrow}^{k+1} w$

Let $w\in T^*$ and let $\alpha \in (V\cup T)^+$ such that $\alpha \Rightarrow^{k+1} w$,
And so we get that $\exists \beta \in (V\cup T)^*$ such that $\alpha\Rightarrow\beta\Rightarrow^k w$.
Since $k\geq 1$ we get that $\beta \in (V\cup T)^*V(V\cup T)^*$ and so $\beta\in(V\cup T)^+$.
Now since $w\in T^*$ and since $\beta \Rightarrow^k w$ we get by the induction hypothesis that $\beta \overset{_{lm}}{\Rightarrow}^k w$

Now I do not know how to proceed.

I got that $\alpha \Rightarrow^1 \beta$ but how can I show that $\alpha \overset{_{lm}}{\Rightarrow}^1 \beta$ and from there conclude that $\alpha \overset{_{lm}}{\Rightarrow}^{k+1} w$ using the facts I've shown above?

thanks for any help.

  • $\begingroup$ If my question and my suggested proof is not clear please tell me how to revise it. $\endgroup$
    – MathNerd
    Dec 30 '15 at 17:46
  • $\begingroup$ I've got some answer on CS Exchange: cs.stackexchange.com/questions/51292/… $\endgroup$
    – MathNerd
    Dec 30 '15 at 19:05
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ In the future, don't ask the same question on several sites; this is frowned upon. $\endgroup$ Dec 31 '15 at 7:49

You have $\alpha\Rightarrow\beta\overset{lm}\Longrightarrow^k w$, so there are $\gamma,\delta,\zeta\in(V\cup T)^*$ and $A\in V$ such that $\alpha=\gamma A\delta$, $\beta=\gamma\zeta\delta$, and $A\to\zeta$ is in $P$. If $\gamma\in T^*$, you’re done: we have a leftmost derivation. If not, $\gamma=\gamma_1B\gamma_2$ for some $\gamma_1\in T^*$, $B\in V$, and $\gamma_2\in(V\cup T)^*$. Thus, $\beta=\gamma_1B\gamma_2\zeta\delta$, where $\gamma_1\in T^*$.

The first step in the leftmost derivation $\beta\overset{lm}\Longrightarrow^k w$ must therefore use some production $B\to\eta$ in $P$:


Reverse the order of the first two steps: first apply the production $B\to\eta$ to get

$$\alpha=\gamma A\delta=\gamma_1B\gamma_2 A\delta\overset{lm}\Longrightarrow\gamma_1\eta\gamma_2A\delta\;,$$

where $\gamma_1\in T^*$. Now we know from $(1)$ that


so in particular $\gamma_1\eta\gamma_2A\delta\Rightarrow^kw$. By the induction hypothesis $\gamma_1\eta\gamma_2A\delta\overset{lm}\Longrightarrow^kw$, and $\gamma_1\in T^*$, so


and hence $\alpha\overset{lm}\Longrightarrow^{k+1}w$, as desired.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @MathNerd: You're very welcome. $\endgroup$ Dec 31 '15 at 7:36

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