We tackle the problem of planning in nondeterministic domains, by presenting a new approach to conformant planning. Conformant planning is the problem of finding a sequence of actions that is guaranteed to achieve the goal despite the nondeterminism of the domain. Our approach is based on the representation of the planning domain as a finite state automaton. We use Symbolic Model Checking techniques, in particular Binary Decision Diagrams, to compactly represent and efficiently search the automaton. In this paper we make the following contributions. First, we present a general planning algorithm for conformant planning, which applies to fully nondeterministic domains, with uncertainty in the initial condition and in action effects. The algorithm is based on a breadth-first, backward search, and returns conformant plans of minimal length, if a solution to the planning problem exists, otherwise it terminates concluding that the problem admits no conformant solution. Second, we provide a symbolic representation of the search space based on Binary Decision Diagrams (BDDs), which is the basis for search techniques derived from symbolic model checking. The symbolic representation makes it possible to analyze potentially large sets of states and transitions in a single computation step, thus providing for an efficient implementation. Third, we present CMBP (Conformant Model Based Planner), an efficient implementation of the data structures and algorithm described above, directly based on BDD manipulations, which allows for a compact representation of the search layers and an efficient implementation of the search steps. Finally, we present an experimental comparison of our approach with the state-of-the-art conformant planners CGP, QBFPLAN and GPT. Our analysis includes all the planning problems from the distribution packages of these systems, plus other problems defined to stress a number of specific factors. Our approach appears to be the most effective: CMBP is strictly more expressive than QBFPLAN and CGP and, in all the problems where a comparison is possible, CMBP outperforms its competitors, sometimes by orders of magnitude.
Manufacturing companies face challenges when it comes to quickly adapting their production control to fluctuating demands or changing requirements. Control approaches that encapsulate production functions as services have shown to be promising in order to increase the flexibility of Cyber-Physical Production Systems. But an existing challenge of such approaches is finding a production plan based on provided functionalities for a demanded product, especially when there is no direct (i.e., syntactic) match between demanded and provided functions. While there is a variety of approaches to production planning, flexible production poses specific requirements that are not covered by existing research. In this contribution, we first capture these requirements for flexible production environments. Afterwards, an overview of current Artificial Intelligence approaches that can be utilized in order to overcome the aforementioned challenges is given. For this purpose, we focus on planning algorithms, but also consider models of production systems that can act as inputs to these algorithms. Approaches from both symbolic AI planning as well as approaches based on Machine Learning are discussed and eventually compared against the requirements. Based on this comparison, a research agenda is derived.
Temporal planning is an active research area of Artificial Intelligence because of its many applications ranging from roboticsto logistics and beyond. Traditionally, authors focused on theautomatic synthesis of plans given a formal representation of thedomain and of the problem. However, the effectiveness of suchtechniques is limited by the complexity of the modeling phase: it ishard to produce a correct model for the planning problem at hand. In this paper, we present a technique to simplify the creation ofcorrect models by leveraging formal-verification tools for automaticvalidation. We start by using the ANML language, a very expressivelanguage for temporal planning problems that has been recentlypresented. We chose ANML because of its usability andreadability. Then, we present a sound-and-complete, formal encodingof the language into Linear Temporal Logic over predicates withinfinite-state variables. Thanks to this reduction, we enable theformal verification of several relevant properties over the planningproblem, providing useful feedback to the modeler.
The plans that planning systems generate for solvable planning tasks are routinely verified by independent validation tools. For unsolvable planning tasks, no such validation capabilities currently exist. We describe a family of certificates of unsolvability for classical planning tasks that can be efficiently verified and are sufficiently general for a wide range of planning approaches including heuristic search with delete relaxation, critical-path, pattern database and linear merge-and-shrink heuristics, symbolic search with binary decision diagrams, and the Trapper algorithm for detecting dead ends. We also augmented a classical planning system with the ability to emit certificates of unsolvability and implemented a planner-independent certificate validation tool. Experiments show that the overhead for producing such certificates is tolerable and that their validation is practically feasible.
The planning competition has become a regular part of the biennial Artificial Intelligence Planning and Scheduling (AIPS) conferences. The 2000 competition featured a much larger group of participants and a wide variety of different approaches to planning. Besides the dramatic increase in participation, the 2000 competition demonstrated that planning technology has taken a giant leap forward in performance since 1998. The 2000 competition featured planning systems that were orders of magnitude faster than the planners of just two years prior.