Section: Application Domains

Continuous computation theories

Understanding computation theories for continuous systems leads to studying hardness of verification and control of these systems. This has been used to discuss problems in fields as diverse as verification (see e.g., [39]), control theory (see e.g., [47]), neural networks (see e.g., [72]), and so on. We are interested in the formal decidability of properties of dynamical systems, such as reachability [63], the Skolem-Pisot problem [44], the computability of the ω-limit set [62]. Those problems are analogous to verification of safety properties.

Contrary to computability theory, complexity theory over continuous spaces is underdeveloped and not well understood. A central issue is the choice of the representation of objects by discrete data and its effects on the induced complexity notions. As for computability, it is well known that a representation is gauged by the topology it induces. However more structure is needed to capture the complexity notions: topologically equivalent representations may induce different classes of polynomial-time computable objects, e.g., developing a sound complexity theory over continuous structures would enable us to make abstract computability results more applicable by analyzing the corresponding complexity issues. We think that the preliminary step towards such a theory is the development of higher-order complexity, which we are currently carrying out.

In contrast with the discrete setting, it is of utmost importance to compare the various models of computation over the reals, as well as their associated complexity theories. In particular, we focus on the General Purpose Analog Computer of Claude Shannon [75], on recursive analysis [79], on the algebraic approach [70] and on Markov computability [64]. A crucial point for future investigations is to fill the gap between continuous and discrete computational models. This is one deep motivation of our work on computation theories for continuous systems.