Welcome!

You have reached the online home of FLAReLab, the Formal Languages and Automata Research Lab. We are a part of the Department of Computer Science at St. Francis Xavier University in Antigonish, Nova Scotia, Canada.

About Us

In the same way that a flare illuminates the dark sky, research in theoretical computer science sheds light on the many unknowns scattered across the rest of computer science. Theoretical research forms the foundation of the study of computing, and although the interest in and value of “hot topics” ebbs and flows, theory is a constant presence lending perpetual insight to researchers and practitioners alike.

The members of FLAReLab study fundamental problems in formal language theory and automata theory together with select applications of these theoretical notions, intersecting with areas such as algorithm analysis, bioinformatics, coding theory, and software engineering. FLAReLab research has been presented at top international conferences and published in leading computer science journals, and its members have received a number of awards and accolades.

FLAReLab is led by Taylor J. Smith, an assistant professor and Alley Heaps Associate in the Department of Computer Science at St. Francis Xavier University.

Our Team

Current Members

Taylor J. Smith
Assistant Professor,
Director of FLAReLab
 
Liam Johnston
Liam Johnston
Undergraduate Summer Research Student
(co-supervised with M. King)
Alastair May
Alastair May
Undergraduate Summer Research Student
 

Affiliate Members

Milton King
Assistant Professor,
St. Francis Xavier University
Kai Salomaa
Professor,
Queen’s University

News

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Media

Please contact us directly with any media inquiries.

Projects

Two-Dimensional Formal Languages and Automata Theory


A major interest of FLAReLab lies in the study of formal languages and automata theory in two dimensions. Although going from strings to arrays may not seem like a big change, adding another dimension increases the computational power of a finite automaton drastically. FLAReLab members study fundamental properties of the two-dimensional automaton model together with applications to other areas of computer science, such as data storage and image recognition.

Visual Representations of Automata


Building on the Grail software package, members of FLAReLab created a tool that takes Grail output and generates a visual representation of a finite automaton in LaTeX/TikZ code. The generated figure can then be added to research papers or educational materials, saving authors considerable time versus producing the figure manually. This work received the Computer Science Communication Award at the Science Atlantic MSCS 2022 conference.

Bio-Inspired Language Operations


Certain biological and genomic operations, such as insertion, deletion, splicing, and mutagenesis, can be modelled formally using language operations. In a collaboration with researchers from South Korea, members of FLAReLab studied these bio-inspired language operations and proved a number of decidability and algorithmic results that, taken together, establish the power of this modelling technique. Combining formal languages with bioinformatics may help future researchers uncover new findings without the need for a wet lab.

Support

FLAReLab and its members graciously acknowledge funding support from the following sources:

Join Us

If you are an undergraduate or graduate student who has an interest in formal languages, automata, or applications of theoretical computer science, feel free to get in touch! FLAReLab has openings for undergraduate summer research students, undergraduate honours thesis students, and graduate students applying to the Master of Science program.

Please read the information sheet for prospective students, and contact us if you have any questions about the application process or funding opportunities.

Contact

Email

tjsmith at stfx dot ca

Address

FLAReLab c/o Taylor J. Smith
Department of Computer Science
St. Francis Xavier University
2323 Notre Dame Ave.
Antigonish, NS  B2G 2W5
Canada

Web

 GitHub

Map

We are located on the ground floor of the Annex building on the campus of St. Francis Xavier University.