Merge-and-shrink abstractions for classical planning : theory, strategies, and implementation

Sievers, Silvan. Merge-and-shrink abstractions for classical planning : theory, strategies, and implementation. 2017, Doctoral Thesis, University of Basel, Faculty of Science.

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Official URL: http://edoc.unibas.ch/diss/DissB_12566

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Classical planning is the problem of finding a sequence of deterministic actions in a state space that lead from an initial state to a state satisfying some goal condition. The dominant approach to optimally solve planning tasks is heuristic search, in particular A* search combined with an admissible heuristic. While there exist many different admissible heuristics, we focus on abstraction heuristics in this thesis, and in particular, on the well-established merge-and-shrink heuristics.
Our main theoretical contribution is to provide a comprehensive description of the merge-and-shrink framework in terms of transformations of transition systems. Unlike previous accounts, our description is fully compositional, i.e. can be understood by understanding each transformation in isolation. In particular, in addition to the name-giving merge and shrink transformations, we also describe pruning and label reduction as such transformations. The latter is based on generalized label reduction, a new theory that removes all of the restrictions of the previous definition of label reduction. We study the four types of transformations in terms of desirable formal properties and explain how these properties transfer to heuristics being admissible and consistent or even perfect. We also describe an optimized implementation of the merge-and-shrink framework that substantially improves the efficiency compared to previous implementations.
Furthermore, we investigate the expressive power of merge-and-shrink abstractions by analyzing factored mappings, the data structure they use for representing functions. In particular, we show that there exist certain families of functions that can be compactly represented by so-called non-linear factored mappings but not by linear ones.
On the practical side, we contribute several non-linear merge strategies to the merge-and-shrink toolbox. In particular, we adapt a merge strategy from model checking to planning, provide a framework to enhance existing merge strategies based on symmetries, devise a simple score-based merge strategy that minimizes the maximum size of transition systems of the merge-and-shrink computation, and describe another framework to enhance merge strategies based on an analysis of causal dependencies of the planning task.
In a large experimental study, we show the evolution of the performance of merge-and-shrink heuristics on planning benchmarks. Starting with the state of the art before the contributions of this thesis, we subsequently evaluate all of our techniques and show that state-of-the-art non-linear merge-and-shrink heuristics improve significantly over the previous state of the art.
Advisors:Helmert, Malte and Hoffmann, Jörg
Faculties and Departments:05 Faculty of Science > Departement Mathematik und Informatik > Informatik > Artificial Intelligence (Helmert)
UniBasel Contributors:Sievers, Silvan and Helmert, Malte
Item Type:Thesis
Thesis Subtype:Doctoral Thesis
Thesis no:12566
Thesis status:Complete
Bibsysno:Link to catalogue
Number of Pages:1 Online-Ressource (xii, 181, 4 Seiten)
Identification Number:
Last Modified:18 Apr 2018 13:45
Deposited On:18 Apr 2018 12:41

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