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The importance of siphons is well recognized in the analysis and control of deadlocks in a Petri net. To minimize the number of siphons that have to be explicitly controlled, siphons in a net are divided in a net into elementary and dependent ones. The concepts of token-rich, token-poor, and equivalent siphons are newly presented. More general conditions under which a dependent siphon can be always marked are established. The existence of dependent siphons in a Petri net is investigated. An algorithm is developed to find the set of elementary siphons in a net system for deadlock control purposes. The application of the proposed elementary siphon concept to the existing deadlock control policies is discussed. A few different-sized manufacturing examples are used to demonstrate the advantages of elementary siphon-based policies. The significant value of the proposed theory via a particular deadlock control policy is shown. Finally, some interesting and open problems are discussed.