Semantic Domains for Combining Probability and Non-Determinism

Regina Tix, Klaus Keimel, Gordon D. Plotkin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We present domain-theoretic models that support both probabilistic and nondeterministic choice. In [A. McIver and C. Morgan. Partial correctness for probablistic demonic programs. Theoretical Computer Science, 266:513–541, 2001], Morgan and McIver developed an ad hoc semantics for a simple imperative language with both probabilistic and nondeterministic choice operators over a discrete state space, using domain-theoretic tools. We present a model also using domain theory in the sense of D.S. Scott (see e.g. [G. Gierz, K. H. Hofmann, K. Keimel, J. D. Lawson, M. W. Mislove, and D. S. Scott. Continuous Lattices and Domains, volume 93 of Encyclopedia of Mathematics and its Applications. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 2003]), but built over quite general continuous domains instead of discrete state spaces.

Our construction combines the well-known domains modelling nondeterminism – the lower, upper and convex powerdomains, with the probabilistic powerdomain of Jones and Plotkin [C. Jones and G. Plotkin. A probabilistic powerdomain of evaluations. In Proceedings of the Fourth Annual Symposium on Logic in Computer Science, pages 186–195. IEEE Computer Society Press, 1989] modelling probabilistic choice. The results are variants of the upper, lower and convex powerdomains over the probabilistic powerdomain (see Chapter 4). In order to prove the desired universal equational properties of these combined powerdomains, we develop sandwich and separation theorems of Hahn-Banach type for Scott-continuous linear, sub- and superlinear functionals on continuous directed complete partially ordered cones, endowed with their Scott topologies, in analogy to the corresponding theorems for topological vector spaces in functional analysis (see Chapter 3). In the end, we show that our semantic domains work well for the language used by Morgan and McIver.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3-99
Number of pages97
JournalElectronic Notes in Theoretical Computer Science
Publication statusPublished - 2009


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