Critical Exponents and Stabilizers of Infinite Words
This thesis concerns infinite words over finite alphabets. It contributes to two topics in this area: critical exponents and stabilizers. Let w be a right-infinite word defined over a finite alphabet. The critical exponent of w is the supremum of the set of exponents r such that w contains an r-power as a subword. Most of the thesis (Chapters 3 through 7) is devoted to critical exponents. Chapter 3 is a survey of previous research on critical exponents and repetitions in morphic words. In Chapter 4 we prove that every real number greater than 1 is the critical exponent of some right-infinite word over some finite alphabet. Our proof is constructive. In Chapter 5 we characterize critical exponents of pure morphic words generated by uniform binary morphisms. We also give an explicit formula to compute these critical exponents, based on a well-defined prefix of the infinite word. In Chapter 6 we generalize our results to pure morphic words generated by non-erasing morphisms over any finite alphabet. We prove that critical exponents of such words are algebraic, of a degree bounded by the alphabet size. Under certain conditions, our proof implies an algorithm for computing the critical exponent. We demonstrate our method by computing the critical exponent of some families of infinite words. In particular, in Chapter 7 we compute the critical exponent of the Arshon word of order n for n ≥ 3. The stabilizer of an infinite word w defined over a finite alphabet Σ is the set of morphisms f: Σ*→Σ* that fix w. In Chapter 8 we study various problems related to stabilizers and their generators. We show that over a binary alphabet, there exist stabilizers with at least n generators for all n. Over a ternary alphabet, the monoid of morphisms generating a given infinite word by iteration can be infinitely generated, even when the word is generated by iterating an invertible primitive morphism. Stabilizers of strict epistandard words are cyclic when non-trivial, while stabilizers of ultimately strict epistandard words are always non-trivial. For this latter family of words, we give a characterization of stabilizer elements. We conclude with a list of open problems, including a new problem that has not been addressed yet: the D0L repetition threshold.