Animating the conversion of nondeterministic finite state automata to deterministic finite state automata

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Montana State University - Bozeman, College of Engineering


Many students may find the conversion of non-deterministic finite state automata into deterministic finite state automata to be difficult. Since standard computers are deterministic by nature, it is beneficial to understand how to convert nondeterministic finite state automata into equivalent deterministic versions. This conversion process is often inadequately presented in traditional textbooks, though, as static presentations rarely capture the dynamics of the process. This thesis provides a Java applet that will help students better understand the conversion, and may help teachers to better present the conversion. This applet was designed to be beneficial to student learning; therefore, many different learning modes were included.
These modes vary the speed and level of detail of the conversion so that students may proceed at their own pace. Each step of the conversion is animated and the student is constantly made aware of what has just happened and what is going to happen next, along with how the step will be performed. If the student is asked by the applet to supply anything, the applet will provide the student with feedback on his or her mistakes or successes. This non-deterministic finite state automaton to deterministic finite state automaton conversion applet will be added to the Webworks hypertextbook project. This project is designed around the premise that animating algorithms will lead to better learning.




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