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# I NFORMATIQUE THÉORIQUE ET APPLICATIONS

F. M IGNOSI
G. P IRILLO
Repetitions in the Fibonacci infinite word
Informatique théorique et applications, tome 26, no 3 (1992), p. 199-
204.
<http://www.numdam.org/item?id=ITA_1992__26_3_199_0>

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## Article numérisé dans le cadre du programme

Numérisation de documents anciens mathématiques
http://www.numdam.org/
Informatique théorique et Applications/Theoretical Informaties and Applications
(vol. 26, n° 3, 1992, p. 199 à 204)

## by F. MIGNOSI (*) and G. PIRILLO ( 2 )

Communicated by J. BERSTEL

Abstract. - Let <p be the golden number; we prove that the Fibonacci infinité word contains no
frac tional power with exponent greater than 2 + <p and we prove that for any real number e > 0 the
Fibonacci infinité word contains a frac tional power with exponent greater than 2 + cp — e.

Résumé. — Soit <p le nombre d'or; nous prouvons que le mot infini de Fibmacci ne contient pas
la puissance fractionnaire d'exposant supérieur à 2 + <p, et nous prouvons qu'il contient des puissances
d'exposant supérieur à 2 + <p - e, quel que soit le nombre réel s > 0.

INTRODUCTION

Many papers are concerned with the existence of integer powers in "long
enough" words or in infinité words; a classical combinatorial property is
wether a given infinité word is k power-free or not, with k natural number.
No word on a two letters alphabet can avoid a square but it is well known
that the Thue infinité word t on a two letter alphabet does not contain cubes
and that the Thue infinité word m on a three letter alphabet does not contain
squares (see , ).
The notion of overlap-free word and more generally the notion of fractional
power are considered in many papers (see for instance , , , ).
In this paper we prove that the Fibonacci infinité word contains no
fractional power with exponent greater than 2 + (( /5+l)/2) and that for
any real number e>0 the Fibonacci infinité word contains a fractional power
with exponent greater than 2 + ((y5 + l)/2)-e.

## (*) Received 1989, revised November 1990.

(1) Dept. Mat. et Appl., via Archirafi 34, 90123 Palermo (Italia), L.I.T.P.-Université Paris-
VII, 2, place Jussieu, 75252 Paris Cedex 05.
(2) I.A.G.A.-I.A.M.I. C N R . , Viale Morgagni 67/A, 50134 Firenze (Italia).

## Informatique théorique et Applications/Theoretical Informaties and Applications

200 F. MIGNOSI, G. PIRILLO

To our knowledge this is the fïrst time that this property for a non rational
value is looked for in a given infinité word.

## We refer to  for the terminology.

Let A be an alphabet. We dénote by A* ihtfree monoid on A. The éléments
of A* are called words and the éléments of A are called letters. We dénote
by 1 the empty word which is the identity of A*- we also dénote by U the
length of a word v.
A word v is a factor of a word w if there exist u, u'eA* such that

w = uvu

## and we say that v is a left factor of w if M is the empty word.

If a word w is of the form

.v = vk

## with w^ 1, we say that w is a ^ w of x>; k is called the ejc/wwiöir of the

power and v is the base of the power.
If a word w is of the form

w—v. . .vu —

## with K * 1 , fc^l and M left factor of t>, we say that w is a fractionalpower of

« of exponent e= | w |/| t> | and v is the base of the power.
An infinité word s on an alphabet A is a map from the set of positive
integers into A; we dénote by A<» the set of ail infinité words on the alphabet

A word veA* is a factor of the infinité word s if there exist us A*, s'eA™
such that s = uvs'. If M is the empty word then v is a left factor of s.
The Fibonacd infinité word f on the alphabet A = {a, b) is obtained by
iterating the morphism \|/ : { a, b } -> {a, b} given by

## starting with the letter a (see ). Therefore

f = abaababaabaabab...

## Informatique théorique et Applications/Theoretical Informaties and Applii

cations
REPETITIONS IN THE FIBONACCI INFINITE WORD 201

## It is easy to see that f„+2-^+1^ and> consequently, the séquence |fB|,

neN is the séquence of Fibonacci numbers; moreover for any n^> 1, f„ is a
left factor of fn+j and of f.
For fi^2we dénote by gn the word f„_ 2 ^-i- I* &easy t0 see that for each
n ^ 2 there exists a word v„ such that fn = v„ xy and g„ = vn yx with x9 y e { a, b}
and x^y and also that fn+2^fn^»-x
The following fact is straigthforward
Fact. - If u is a left factor of f„ and also of g,,^ then u is a left factor of
\n^1 and, consequently

4-power.

## PROPOSITION 2 (Séébold ): Let v^l; if v2 is a factor of the Fibonacci

infinité word f then there exists n such that |u| = |fn|; more precisely v = wz
with zw~ïnfor some words z and w, \ w|>0, i.e. v is a conjugate offn.
Now let u^l, ueA* and let u = xl. . ,x„, x(sA; we dénote by û the mirror
image of w, that is xn. . .x x .
We say that a factor u of f is special if ua and ub are both factors of f.

## PROPOSITION 3 (Berstel ): If u is a special factor of the Fibonacci infinité

wordt then û is a left factor off.
Since the séquence |fn|, neN, is the séquence of Fibonacci numbers, we
have the following proposition.

## vol. 26, n° 3, 1992

202 F. MIGNOSI, G. PIRILLO

and

Km
\u\
PROPOSITION 5 (de Luca ): For each i the word ft is primitive; therefore
for each i the conjugales ofit are distinct.

## Let us prove the following lemma.

LEMMA: No fractional power with exponent greater than l + ( /T+l)/2 can
be a left factor of the Fibonacci infinité word f. More precisely, if vvu is
a fractional power which is a left factor of f then v = f for some n and
|H*KI + KI+K|2
Proof: Let vvu be a fractional power which is a left factor of f.
By using Proposition 2 we have that | v \ = | fn | for some «, and, consequently
vv is a left factor of f with length 21 fB |. By inspection one can easily see that
n is greater than or equal to 3.
As f„ is a left factor of f we have that v = in for some n ^ 3. Thus vvu = f„ f>
and either u is a left factor of f„ or f„ is a left factor of u.
But for n^3fn +2 = fjngn_l is a left factor off.
Hence, since g ^ is not a left factor of f„, we have that u is necessarily a
left factor of gn_x; by the fact

## Thus |^w|^|f M | + |f„| + |f„_ 1 |-2and ? by Proposition 4,

hH<|f«l+|fn|+|fn-xh2 y5+i

## We are now ready to prove our main resuit.

PROPOSITION 6: The Fibonacci infinité word f contains no fractional power
with exponent greater than 2 + ( ( y 5 + l)/2) and, for any real number E > 0 , it
contains a fractional power with exponent greater than 2 + (( / 5 + l)/2)-e

## Informatique théorique et Applications/Theoretical Informaties and Applications

REPETITIONS IN THE FIBONACCI INFINITE WORD 203

## Proof: Let wvu be a fractional power factor of f. As in f there are no 4

power s (Proposition 1) one can find in f a factor

u xu u xu u xu u y

## It follows that u'xu'u'xu"u' is a special factor of f. By Proposition 3,

u u" xu' u" xû is a left factor off. From the Lemma

\u u xu u xu
U U X\

and, consequently,

I vvvu I
<2 +

Since

## the second part of the proposition follows from Proposition 4. D

In the proof of the above proposition we used the fact that for n^.3,
f„f„fnv„_1 is a factor of f. As a conséquence all words of the form wzwzwz
with zw — fn and |z|^|v„„ 1 1 are factors off; by Proposition 5 all these words
| tri e number of these words is \yn-11 + 1.
are distinct. Since 0 ^ | z | S vn~i >
Let us suppose that vvv is a factor of f and that | v \ = | fn | for some n ^ 3.
By proposition 2, u = wzs | w|>0, and zw = f„.
Suppose that' |^| > |v„_x |; since fB = fB-ifB_2 = vII_1j;xfII_2 with x,
y e [a, b) and x^y, we can write ï„=^yn_1yuw with z=:\n_1yu and, conse-
quently, vvv = w\n_1 yuw v„ _1 yuw v„ _ ! y u.
We know that fnfnfngn-1==vn-1yuw\n_1yuw\n^1yuwYn_xxy is a factor
2
off; thus w\n_1yuw\n_1yuw\n_1 = w\n_1 (yuw\n_1) is a special factor and
by Proposition 3 its mirror image must be a prefix of f. This is impossible
by the Lemma because | w | > 0.
Hence we have proved the following proposition.

## vol. 26, n° 3, 1992

204 F. MIGNOSI, G. PIRIIXO

## PROPOSITION 7: For n ^ 3 the number of distinct factors v of i with length

| f„ | such that vvv is also a factor of f is exactly | v„ _x | 4-1. More precisely
they are all the words of the form wz with zw ~ fn and | z | S |v« -11 •
OBSERVATION: AS 2 + ( ( / 5 + l)/2) is an irrational number it cannot exist a
fractional power with exponent equal to it.
In the Thue infinité word t on a two letters alphabet A there are clearly
squares but there are no overlaps (that is factors like xvxvy, xeA, veA*).
On the contrary it is easy to see that, for any £>0, in the Thue infinité word
m on a three letters alphabet there exists a fractional power with exponent
greater than 2 —e but it is a classical resuit that m is square free.
Remark: Proposition 6 and 7 were firstly proved by using techniques of
Sturmian words. Following the suggestion of i \ Séébold we tried to fïnd a
simpler proof; actually our proof is simpler than the previous one and use
only elementary properties of the Fibonacci infinité word.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

We thank P. Séébold for his useful suggestions and Professor J. Justin for his friendly advice.

REFERENCES

## 1. J. BERSTEL, Mots de Fibonacci, Séminaire d'informatique théorique, L.LT.P., Paris,

Année 1980/1981, pp. 57-78.
2. A. DE LUCA, A combinatorial property of the Fibonacci words, Inform. Process.
Lett, 1981, 12, n. 4, pp. 193-195.
3. F. DEJEAN, Sur un théorème de Thue, /. Comb. Theory, Ser. A, 1972, 13, pp. 90-
99.
4. J. KARHUMÀKI, On cube-free ©-words generated by binary morphism, Discr. AppL
Math., 1983, 5, pp. 279-297.
5. G. H. HARDY and E. M. WRIGHT, An Introduction to the theory of Numbers,
Oxford University Press, Fifth édition, 1983.
6. LOTHAIRE, Combinatorics on words, Addison Wesley, 1983.
7. A. RESTIVO and S. SALEMI, Overlap-free words on two symbols, Lecture Notes in
CompuL Sel, 1984, 192, pp. 198-206.
8. P. SÉÉBOLD, Propriétés combinatoires des mots infinis engendrés par certains
morphismes, Thèse de doctorat, Rapp. Tec. L.I.T.P., 85-14, 1985.
9. A. THUE, Über unendliche Zeichenreihen, Norske Vid. Selsk. Skr. L Mat.-Nat.
Kl, Christiana 1906, Nr. 7. pp. 1-22.
10. A. THUE, Über die gegenseitige Lege gleicher Teile gewisser Zeichenrein, Norske
Vid. Selsk. Skr. L Mat.-Nat KL, Christiana 1912, Nr. 1, pp. 1-67.

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