This novel formalization of optimality theory has several technical advantages over the previous computational treatments:
This approach shows clearly that optimality theory is very similar to the two older strains of finite-state phonology: classical rewrite systems and two-level models. In optimality theory, lenient composition plays the same role as ordinary composition in rewrite systems. The top-down serialism of rule ordering is replaced by the left-to-right serialism of the constraint tableau.
The new lenient composition operator has other uses beyond phonology. In the area of syntax, Constraint Grammar (Karlsson et al. ) is from a formal point of view very similar to optimality theory. Although constraint grammars so far have not been implemented as pure finite-state systems, it is evident that the lenient composition operator makes it possible.