We develop a novel learning algorithm RTI for identifying a deterministic real-time automaton (DRTA) from labeled time-stamped event sequences. The RTI algorithm is based on the current state of the art in deterministic finite-state automaton (DFA) identification, called evidence-driven state-merging (EDSM). In addition to having a DFA structure, a DRTA contains time constraints between occurrences of consecutive events. Although this seems a small difference, we show that the problem of identifying a DRTA is much more difficult than the problem of identifying a DFA: identifying only the time constraints of a DRTA given its DFA structure is already NP-complete. In spite of this additional complexity, we show that RTI is a correct and complete algorithm that converges efficiently (from polynomial time and data) to the correct DRTA in the limit. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first algorithm that can identify a timed automaton model from time-stamped event sequences.
A straightforward alternative to identifying DRTAs is to identify a DFA that models time implicitly, i.e., a DFA that uses different states for different points in time. Such a DFA can be identified by first sampling the timed sequences using a fixed frequency, and subsequently applying EDSM to the resulting non-timed event sequences. We evaluate the performance of both RTI and this sampling approach experimentally on artificially generated data. In these experiments RTI outperforms the sampling approach significantly. Thus, we show that if we obtain data from a real-time system, it is easier to identify a DRTA from this data than to identify an equivalent DFA.