Deterministic Finite Automaton

What Does Deterministic Finite Automaton Mean?

A deterministic finite automaton is a type of deterministic algorithm based on a state that changes with inputs. These are also known as deterministic finite state machines or deterministic finite acceptors.


They are different from probabilistic and non-deterministic models in that one input (X) results in one known output (Y).

Techopedia Explains Deterministic Finite Automaton

DFAs are useful in many different types of applications. For example, they have been useful in video game programming, for instance, creating the algorithmic movements of characters in the classic game Pac-Man.

Another common use of a DFA is in vending machines where a series of states reacts to transition functions in analyzing units of money inputted into the machine to determine when a purchase price has been met.

Although deterministic models have been the traditional mainstay in programming, new probabilistic and non-deterministic models are slowly emerging. The difference is that non-deterministic models can choose between various outcomes according to inputs, and are able to learn or evolve independent of explicit programming instruction.


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Margaret Rouse is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical, business audience. Over the past twenty years her explanations have appeared on TechTarget websites and she's been cited as an authority in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine and Discovery Magazine.Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages. If you have a suggestion for a new definition or how to improve a technical explanation, please email Margaret or contact her…