A finite state machine (FSM) is a powerful mathematical model that enables us to represent and control the behavior of systems with a finite number of states at any given time. The application of FSMs transcends various fields such as computer science, engineering, and even automation.

So, what exactly is an FSM and how does it work? At its core, an FSM consists of a set of states, input events or stimuli, output actions or responses, and transitions between states based on input events. The states can be visualized as nodes in a directed graph, and the transitions represent the paths connecting these nodes.

To illustrate the concept, let’s imagine a scenario where we have a self-driving car. The car can exist in different states, such as “Idle,” “Moving,” or “Charging.” Each state represents the car’s current condition or what it is doing. Now suppose the car receives various commands or events, like a passenger entering the car or an obstacle on the road. These commands or events trigger a change in the car’s state, leading to different actions.

An FSM serves as a blueprint or a set of rules that guide the car in making decisions at each state and transitioning between states based on the commands or events it receives. It acts as a decision-making mechanism for the car.

For instance, if the car is in the “Idle” state and receives a command to start moving, the FSM will instruct the car to transition to the “Moving” state and commence the movement. Similarly, if the car detects an obstacle while in the “Moving” state, the FSM will guide the car to transition to the “Avoiding” state and change its path to avoid the obstacle.

FSMs find applications in a wide range of systems with discrete and sequential behavior, including software protocols, digital circuits, robotics, and user interfaces. They provide a structured and systematic approach to designing and analyzing complex systems, making them easier to understand, implement, and maintain.

## FAQ

### What is a finite state machine (FSM)?

A finite state machine is a mathematical model used to represent and control the behavior of systems with a finite number of states at any given time. It consists of states, input events, output actions, and transitions between states based on input events.

### How does a finite state machine work?

An FSM works by defining different states that a system can be in and the actions it can perform in each state. It also specifies how the system transitions from one state to another based on input events or commands it receives.

### What are some examples of finite state machines?

Finite state machines can be found in various domains. Some examples include self-driving cars, vending machines, elevator systems, and coin-operated turnstile systems. These systems exhibit discrete and sequential behavior that can be effectively modeled and controlled using FSMs.

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