Constructive Boolean circuits and the exactness of timed ternary simulation
We classify gate level circuits with cycles based on their stabilization behavior. We define a formal class of combinational circuits, the constructive circuits, for which signals settle to a unique value in bounded time, for any input, under a simple conservative delay model, called the up-bounded non-inertial (UN) delay. Since circuits with combinational cycles can exhibit asynchronous behavior, such as non-determinism or metastability, it is crucial to ground their analysis in a formal delay model, which previous work in this area did not do.
We prove that ternary simulation, such as the practical algorithm proposed by Malik, decides the class of constructive circuits. We prove that three-valued algebra is able to maintain correct and exact stabilization information under the UN-delay model, and thus provides an adequate electrical interpretation of Malik’s algorithm, which has been missing in the literature. Previous work on combinational circuits used the upbounded inertial (UI) delay to justify ternary simulation. We show that the match is not exact and that stabilization under the UI-model, in general, cannot be decided by ternary simulation. We argue for the superiority of the UN-model for reasons of complexity, compositionality and electrical adequacy. The UN-model, in contrast to the UI-model, is consistent with the hypothesis that physical mechanisms cannot implement non-deterministic choice in bounded time.
As the corner-stone of our main results we introduce UN-Logic, an axiomatic specification language for UN-delay circuits that mediates between the real-time behavior and its abstract simulation in the ternary domain. We present a symbolic simulation calculus for circuit theories expressed in UN-logic and prove it sound and complete for the UN-model. This provides, for the first time, a correctness and exactness result for the timing analysis of cyclic circuits. Our algorithm is a timed extension of Malik’s pure ternary algorithm and closely related to the timed algorithm proposed by Riedel and Bruck, which however was not formally linked with real-time execution models.
KeywordsCombinational circuits Delay models Ternary simulation Constructive logic
We are grateful to the anonymous reviewers for their suggestions to improve this article. The first author was supported by the European Community as a member of the TYPES Project FP6-IST-510996 and the German Research Foundation DFG through the project grant “Precision-timed Synchronous Processing (PRETSY)”.
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