We introduce the two-dimensional rational automata (RA) to recognize languages of pictures, as an extension of the finite automata for strings. A RA processes a picture column by column changing its state. The states are columns of symbols, too. The transition function is realized by a transducer. We prove that RA recognize the family REC of languages recognized by tiling systems. Moreover, RA provide a uniform setting for a lot of important notions, techniques and results presented in the last decades for recognizable two-dimensional languages. The model is also very flexible. In fact, there can be imposed restrictions or added features to easily interesting new classes and examples or to capture known families of languages.
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