Queen's University

Properties of Two-Dimensional Words

Cover of Master's Thesis: Properties of Two-Dimensional Words, by Queen's researcher Taylor SmithCombinatorics on words in one dimension is a well-studied subfield of theoretical computer science with its origins in the early 20th century. However, the closely-related study of two-dimensional words is not as popular, even though many results seem naturally extendable from the one-dimensional case. This thesis investigates various properties of these two-dimensional words. In the early 1960s, Roger Lyndon and Marcel-Paul Schutzenberger developed two famous results on conditions where nontrivial prefixes and suffixes of a one-dimensional word are identical and on conditions where two one-dimensional words commute. Here, the theorems of Lyndon and Schutzenberger are extended in the one-dimensional case to include a number of additional equivalent conditions. One such condition is shown to be equivalent to the defect theorem from formal languages and coding theory. The same theorems of Lyndon and Schutzenberger are then generalized to the two-dimensional case. The study of two-dimensional words continues by considering primitivity and periodicity in two dimensions, where a method is developed to enumerate two-dimensional primitive words. An efficient computer algorithm is presented to assist with checking the property of primitivity in two dimensions. Finally, borders in both one and two dimensions are considered, with some results being proved and others being offered as suggestions for future work. Another efficient algorithm is presented to assist with checking whether a two-dimensional word is bordered. The thesis concludes with a selection of open problems and an appendix containing extensive data related to one such open problem. (Read More)