The Continuous Skolem Problem asks whether a real-valued function satisfying a linear differential equation has a zero in a given interval of real numbers. This is a fundamental reachability problem for continuous linear dynamical systems, such as linear hybrid automata and continuous-time Markov chains. Decidability of the problem is currently open; indeed decidability is open even for the sub-problem in which a zero is sought in a bounded interval. In this paper we show decidability of the bounded problem subject to Schanuel's Conjecture, a unifying conjecture in transcendental number theory. We furthermore analyse the unbounded problem in terms of the frequencies of the differential equation, that is, the imaginary parts of the characteristic roots. We give a reduction of the unbounded problem to the bounded problem in the case of at most one rationally linearly independent frequency or two rationally linearly independent frequencies and simple characteristic roots. We complete the picture by showing that decidability of the unbounded problem in the case of two (or more) rationally linearly independent frequencies would entail a major new effectiveness result in Diophantine approximation, namely computability of the Diophantine-approximation types of all real algebraic numbers.
Proceedings of ICALP 16, LIPIcs 55, 2016. 19 pages.
© 2016 Ventsislav Chonev, Joël Ouaknine, and James Worrell.