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Chaos, Solitons & Fractals 44 (2011) 415417

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Chaos, Solitons & Fractals

Nonlinear Science, and Nonequilibrium and Complex Phenomena
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Surjective cellular automata with zero entropy are almost one-to-one

T.K. Subrahmonian Moothathu
Department of Mathematics and Statistics, University of Hyderabad, Hyderabad 500 046, India

a r t i c l e

i n f o

Article history:
Received 20 May 2010
Accepted 20 January 2011
Available online 21 April 2011

a b s t r a c t
We show that any one-dimensional surjective cellular automata whose entropy is zero
with respect to the uniform Bernoulli measure must be almost one-to-one.
2011 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

1. Introduction
Entropy, a numerical invariant taking values in [0, 1], is
a very useful tool in measuring the complexity of dynamical systems. Zero entropy indicates lack of complexity and
non-zero entropy indicates complexity in the system. For
some important classes of dynamical systems, simple conditions implying zero or non-zero entropy are available.
For instance, a continuous interval map has zero entropy
iff the length of any periodic orbit is a power of two (Theorem 4.4.20 of [1]) and a toral automorphism has non-zero
entropy if none of its eigenvalues is unimodular (Theorem
5.3 of [8]).
Cellular automata form an intriguing class of dynamical
systems representable by elementary nitary rules, but
capable of complex behavior. We will be specically interested in one-dimensional cellular automata throughout. In
the literature (see for instance [2,5,9] and the references
therein), valuable information is available about the entropy
and the invariant measure of maximal entropy of certain restricted class of cellular automata (additive, permutive,
expansive, etc.). It is also known that the entropy of a onedimensional cellular automata is never 1 (c.f. [5]). But, to
the best of our knowledge, there does not seem to be any result answering the following question in a broad sense.
Question: which one-dimensional cellular automata
have positive entropy?
In this article, we contribute something towards
answering this question by proving an intuitively natural
result. Every surjective cellular automata F : AZ ! AZ is
known to preserve [10] the uniform Bernoulli measure l
on the Borel r-algebra of AZ . As our main result, we show
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that if the measure-theoretic entropy hl(F) = 0 for a surjective cellular automata F, then F must be almost one-to-one
(Theorem 1). Our proof has three ingredients. First we
show that surjective F cannot take l-null sets to sets having positive l-measure. Secondly, we use a classic result of
GleasonWelchHedlund saying that if F is not almost oneto-one, then for some integer p P 2, F is almost p-to-one.
Thirdly, we bring in the measure-theoretic fact that if
hl(F) = 0, then F must be injective on a large portion of
its domain.
As a corollary, we obtain (compare Theorem 2 of [5])
that every non-injective, additive, surjective cellular automata has positive entropy.
2. Cellular automata
Let (A, q) be a nite discrete metric space with jAj P 2
and let AZ fx xi i2Z : xi 2 Ag. Here, A is called the alphabet and any element of An (n 2 N) is called a word of length
n over A. The metric d on AZ dened by

dx; y

X qxi ; y


induces the product topology on AZ . The compact metric

space AZ ; d is homeomorphic to the Cantor set. For
x 2 AZ and p; q 2 Z with p 6 q, x[p,q] denotes the word
xpxp+1    xq 2 Aqp+1. By a cylinder we mean a set of the
form U w : fx 2 AZ : xk; k wg where w 2 A2k+1, k P 0.
The cylinders are clopen sets in AZ , and they form a natural
base for the topology of AZ .
A function F : AZ ! AZ is a cellular automata if there is a
map (called a local rule) f : A3 ? A such that

Fxi f xi1 xi xi1 for every x 2 AZ and i 2 Z:


T.K.S. Moothathu / Chaos, Solitons & Fractals 44 (2011) 415417

(In general the local rule f is from A2r+1 to A for some r 2 N,

but we may assume r = 1 after a conjugacy see Lemma
8.1 of [7].) It is evident that F given as above is continuous
with respect to the metric d. The local rule f may be dened
on words of length P3 by the convention that f(v1v2   
vn+2) = f(v1v2v3)f(v2v3v4)    f(vnvn+1vn+2), so that f is also a
map from An+2 to An for every n 2 N. Hedlund proved (Theorem 5.4 of [6]) that for a surjective cellular automata,
there is a uniformity in the number of pre-images of words
under the action of the local rule.
Proposition 1 (Hedlund). Let F : AZ ! AZ be a surjective
cellular automata with local rule f : A3 ? A. Then for every
n 2 N and every w 2 An, the set f1(w) : {v 2 An+2 : f(v) = w}
has exactly jAj2 elements.
We deduce below an interesting consequence of this
uniformity. The uniform Bernoulli measure on the Borel
r-algebra of AZ will be denoted throughout by l. Note that
this probability measure l is simply the product measure
so that l[Uw] = jAj(2k+1) for any cylinder Uw given by
w 2 A2k+1, k P 0.
Lemma 1. Let F : AZ ! AZ be a cellular automata with local
rule f : A3 ? A. Let k P 0 and let v 2 A2k+3. Then l[F(Uv)] 6
Proof. Since Uv is closed and hence compact, F(Uv) is compact and hence closed, and thus Borel. If w = f(v) 2 A2k+1,
then F(Uv)  Uw so that l[F(Uv)] 6 l[Uw] = jAj(2k+1) =
jAj2jAj(2k+3) = jAj2l[Uv]. h
 Y 0, where l
 is the
We say Y  AZ is a l-null set if l
completion of l.
Lemma 2. Let F : AZ ! AZ be a surjective cellular automata
with local rule f : A3 ? A and let Y  AZ be a l-null set. Then,
F(Y) cannot be a measurable set having positive l-measure.
Proof. Let d > 0. Since the Borel measure l is regular, there
is an open set U  AZ such that Y  U and l[U] < djAj2. We
may write U as a countable disjoint union U = Uv in such a
way that for each word v there is k P 0 such that v 2 A2k+3.
Then, F(U) = F(Uv) is Fr and hence Borel. Using Lemma 1,
we get lFU 6
lFU v  6 jAj2 lU v  jAj2 lU < d.
Since F(Y)  F(U) and d > 0 is arbitrary, we are done. h

See Chapters 4 and 7 of [12] for the denition and basic

properties of measure-theoretic as well as topological entropy. If T : X ? X is a continuous map of a compact metric
space X, then we denote the topological entropy of T by
h(T); and if m is an invariant Borel probability measure
for T, then we denote the measure-theoretic entropy of T
with respect to m by hm(T). The so called Variational Principle
(see Theorem 8.6 of [12]) says that

Proposition 2. Let T : X ? X be a continuous map of a

compact metric space X, and let m be a T-invariant Borel
probability measure on X with hm(T) = 0. Then, there is a m-null
set Y  X such that the restricted map T from XnY to X is
4. Almost one-to-oneness
Coming back to the theory of cellular automata, let

r : AZ ! AZ be the shift homeomorphism given by

[r(x)]i = xi+1. Let D be the collection of all x 2 AZ such that
the forward and backward r-orbits, {x, r(x), r2(x), . . . } and
{x, r1(x), r2(x), . . . }, are dense in AZ . It is well-known that
D is a dense Gd set with l[D] = 1 (where l is the uniform
Bernoulli measure). GleasonWelchHedlund established
(Theorem 11.1 and Theorem 5.5 of [6]) the following for
surjective cellular automata (where we have separated
the conclusion into two parts for our convenience).
Proposition 3 (GleasonWelchHedlund). Let F : AZ ! AZ
be a surjective cellular automata with local rule f : A3 ? A.
Then, exactly one of the following holds:
(i) jF1(y)j = 1 for every y 2 D and 1 6 jF1(z)j 6 jAj2 for
every z 2 AZ .
(ii) There is an integer p with 2 6 p 6 jAj2 such that
jF1(y)j = p for every y 2 D and p 6 jF1(z)j 6 jAj2 for
every z 2 AZ .
A continuous map T : X ? X of a compact metric space X
is said to be almost one-to-one if the set {x 2 X : F1(F(x)) =
{x}} is residual in X. If a cellular automata F : AZ ! AZ is
surjective, then F is semi-open [7], and therefore in this
case F is almost one-to-one iff the set fy 2 AZ : jF 1 yj
1g is dense in AZ (c.f. [3]). Thus note that a surjective
cellular automata F : AZ ! AZ fails to be almost one-toone iff statement (ii) of Proposition 3 holds.
5. Zero entropy implies F is almost one-to-one
Now, we put together the jigsaw pieces to discover the

3. Entropy

hT sup hm T;

where the supremum is taken over all invariant Borel

probability measures m for T. In particular, h(T) > 0 iff
hm(T) > 0 for some T-invariant Borel probability measure m.
There is a connection between hm(T) being zero and T
being injective on a large portion of X. This is given by Corollary 4.14.3 of [12]. We present below the required version of this result.

Theorem 1. Let F : AZ ! AZ be a surjective cellular automata, and let l be the uniform Bernoulli measure on AZ . If
hl(F) = 0, then F is almost one-to-one.
Proof. Since hl(F) = 0, there is a l-null set Y  AZ such that F
restricted to AZ n Y is injective by Proposition 2. If F is not almost
one-to-one, statement (ii) of Proposition 3 must hold, and therefore we must have FY AZ since every element of AZ has at
least two F-preimages. This contradicts Lemma 2. h

T.K.S. Moothathu / Chaos, Solitons & Fractals 44 (2011) 415417

Corollary 1. Let F : AZ ! AZ be a surjective cellular automata. If h(F) = 0, then F is almost one-to-one.

Proof. By the Variational Principle.

Corollary 2. Let F : AZ ! AZ be a surjective cellular automata, let D  AZ be the set of points having dense forward
and backward r-orbits, and let l be the uniform Bernoulli
measure on AZ . If jF1(y)j P 2 for some y 2 D, then hl(F) > 0
and hence h(F) > 0.
If F is an additive cellular automata (that is, if F is a nite
linear combination of integer powers of r), then all points
have equal number of F-preimages and therefore F is
almost one-to-one iff F is injective. Hence we have the
Corollary 3. Let F : AZ ! AZ be a surjective, additive cellular
automata and let l be the uniform Bernoulli measure on AZ . If
hl(F) = 0, then F is injective.
Remarks: (i) More precise information about the entropy of additive cellular automata can be found in Theorem 2
of [5]. (ii) The entropy of an injective cellular automata
need not be zero since the shift homeomorphism
r : AZ ! AZ has entropy logjAj > 0 (Theorem 7.12 of [12]).
(iii) The following example of F : f0; 1; 2gZ ! f0; 1; 2gZ by
Boyle et al. [4],

Fxi 2 if xi 2;

Fxi xi xi1 mod 2 otherwise


is a surjective, non-injective, almost one-to-one cellular

automata. Here 21    222    2 f0; 1; 2gZ is clearly an


equicontinuity point for F and hence hl(F) = 0 for the uniform Bernoulli measure l by Proposition 5.2 of [11]. In
view of this example, in Theorem 1 we cannot replace
the conclusion of almost one-to-oneness by the stronger
conclusion of injectivity. However, F above has positive
topological entropy since a surjective, non-injective additive cellular automata is embedded in it. So the following
question is still open.
Question: If F is a surjective one-dimensional cellular
automata having topological entropy zero, should F be
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