Converging from branching to linear metrics on Markov chains

Bacci, Giorgio and Bacci, Giovanni and Larsen, Kim G. and Mardare, Radu (2019) Converging from branching to linear metrics on Markov chains. Mathematical Structures in Computer Science, 29 (Specia). pp. 3-37. ISSN 1469-8072 (

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We study two well-known linear-time metrics on Markov chains (MCs), namely, the strong and strutter trace distances. Our interest in these metrics is motivated by their relation to the probabilistic linear temporal logic (LTL)-model checking problem: we prove that they correspond to the maximal differences in the probability of satisfying the same LTL and LTL-X (LTL without next operator) formulas, respectively. The threshold problem for these distances (whether their value exceeds a given threshold) is NP-hard and not known to be decidable. Nevertheless, we provide an approximation schema where each lower and upper approximant is computable in polynomial time in the size of the MC. The upper approximants are bisimilarity-like pseudometrics (hence, branching-time distances) that converge point-wise to the linear-time metrics. This convergence is interesting in itself, because it reveals a non-trivial relation between branching and linear-time metric-based semantics that does not hold in equivalence-based semantics.