The concept of local consistency plays a central role in constraint satisfaction. Given a constraint satisfaction problem (CSP), local consistency can be characterized as deriving new, possibly tighter, constraints based on local information. The derived constraints simplify the representation of the original CSP without the loss of solutions. This can be seen as a preprocessing procedure. Based on arc consistency (Mackworth.
The existing complete methods for solving Constraint Satisfaction Problems (CSPs) are usually based on a combination of exhaustive search and constraint propagation techniques for the reduction of the search space. Such propagation techniques are the local consistency algorithms. Arc Consistency (AC) and Generalized Arc Consistency (GAC) are the most widely studied local consistencies that are predominantly used in constraint solvers. However, many stronger local consistencies than (G)AC have been proposed, even recently, but have been rather overlooked due to their prohibitive cost. This research proposes efficient algorithms for strong consistencies for both binary and non-binary constraints that can be easily adopted by standard CP solvers. Experimental results have so far demonstrated that the proposed algorithms are quite competitive and often more efficient than state-of-the-art methods, being orders of magnitude faster on various problem classes.
Specifically, we present a relationship between the looseness of the constraints, the size of the domains, and the inherent level of local consistency of a constraint network. The results we present are useful in two ways. First, a common method for finding solutions to a constraint network is to first preprocess the network by enforcing local consistency conditions, and then perform a backtracking search.
Local consistency enforcing is at the core of CSP (Constraint Satisfaction Problem) solving. Although arc consistency is still the most widely used level of local consistency, researchers are going on investigating more powerful levels, such as path consistency, k-consistency, (i,j)-consistency. Recently, more attention has been turned to inverse local consistency levels, such as path inverse consistency, k-inverse consistency, neighborhood inverse consistency, which do not suffer from the drawbacks of the other local consistency levels (changes in the constraint definitions and in the constraint graph, prohibitive memory requirements). In this paper, we propose a generic framework for inverse local consistency, which includes most of the previously defined levels and allows a rich set of new levels to be defined. The first benefit of such a generic framework is to allow a user to define and test many different inverse local consistency levels, in accordance with the problem or even the instance he/she has to solve. The second benefit is to allow a generic algorithm to be defined. This algorithm, which is parameterized by the chosen inverse local consistency level, generalizes the AC7 algorithm used for arc consistency, and produces from any instance its locally consistent closure at the chosen level.
Comparisons between primal and dual approaches have recently been extensively studied and evaluated from a theoretical standpoint based on the amount of pruning achieved by each of these when applied to non-binary constraint satisfaction problems. Enforcing arc consistency on the dual encoding has been shown to strictly dominate enforcing GAC on the primal encoding (Stergiou & Walsh 1999). More recently, extensions to dual arc consistency have extended these results to dual encodings that are based on the construction of compact constraint coverings, that retain the completeness of the encodings, while using a fraction of the space. In this paper we present a complete theoretical evaluation of these different consistency techniques and also demonstrate how arbitrarily high levels of consistency can be achieved efficiently using them.