Journal of Automated Reasoning

, Volume 59, Issue 1, pp 121–163

Lower Bounds for Runtime Complexity of Term Rewriting

  • Florian Frohn
  • Jürgen Giesl
  • Jera Hensel
  • Cornelius Aschermann
  • Thomas Ströder

DOI: 10.1007/s10817-016-9397-x

Cite this article as:
Frohn, F., Giesl, J., Hensel, J. et al. J Autom Reasoning (2017) 59: 121. doi:10.1007/s10817-016-9397-x


We present the first approach to deduce lower bounds for (worst-case) runtime complexity of term rewrite systems (TRSs) automatically. Inferring lower runtime bounds is useful to detect bugs and to complement existing methods that compute upper complexity bounds. Our approach is based on two techniques: the induction technique generates suitable families of rewrite sequences and uses induction proofs to find a relation between the length of a rewrite sequence and the size of the first term in the sequence. The loop detection technique searches for “decreasing loops”. Decreasing loops generalize the notion of loops for TRSs, and allow us to detect families of rewrite sequences with linear, exponential, or infinite length. We implemented our approach in the tool AProVE and evaluated it by extensive experiments.


Complexity analysis Term rewriting Induction Lower bounds 

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.LuFG Informatik 2RWTH Aachen UniversityAachenGermany

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