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Control Improvisation

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We formalize and analyze a new automata-theoretic problem termed control improvisation. Given an automaton, the problem is to produce an improviser, a probabilistic algorithm that randomly generates words in its language, subject to two additional constraints: the satisfaction of an admissibility predicate, and the exhibition of a specified amount of randomness. Control improvisation has multiple applications, including, for example, generating musical improvisations that satisfy rhythmic and melodic constraints, where admissibility is determined by some bounded divergence from a reference melody. We analyze the complexity of the control improvisation problem, giving cases where it is efficiently solvable and cases where it is #P-hard or undecidable. We also show how symbolic techniques based on Boolean satisfiability (SAT) solvers can be used to approximately solve some of the intractable cases.


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