Continual On-Line Planning

AAAI Conferences

My research represents an approach to integrating planning and execution in time-sensitive environments. The primary focus is on a problem called continual on-line planning. New goals arrive stochastically during execution, the agent issues actions for execution one at a time, and the environment is otherwise deterministic. My dissertation will address this setting in three stages: optimizing total goal achievement time, handling on-line goal arrival during planning or execution, and adapting to changes in state also during planning or execution. My current approach to this problem is based on incremental heuristic search. The two central issues are the decision of which partial plans to elaborate during search and the decision of when to issue an action for execution. I have proposed an extension of Russell and Wefald's decision-theoretic A* algorithm that is not limited by assumptions of an admissible heuristic like DTA*. This algorithm, Decision Theoretic On-line Continual Search (DTOCS), handles the complexities of the on-line setting by balancing deliberative planning and real-time response.

A Hybrid Linear Programming and Relaxed Plan Heuristic for Partial Satisfaction Planning Problems

AAAI Conferences

The availability of informed (but inadmissible) planning heuristics has enabled the development of highly scalable planning systems. Due to this success, a body of work has grown around modifying these heuristics to handle extensions to classical planning. Most recently, there has been an interest in addressing partial satisfaction planning problems, but existing heuristics fail to address the complex interactions that occur in these problems between action and goal selection. In this paper we provide a unique admissible heuristic based on linear programming that we use to solve a relaxed version of the partial satisfaction planning problem. We incorporate this heuristic in conjunction with a lookahead strategy in a branch and bound algorithm to solve a class of oversubscribed planning problems.

Anticipatory On-Line Planning

AAAI Conferences

We consider the problem of on-line continual planning, in whichadditional goals may arrive while plans for previous goals are stillexecuting and plan quality depends on how quickly goals are achieved.This is a challenging problem even in domains with deterministicactions. One common and straightforward approach is reactive planning,in which plans are synthesized when a new goal arrives. In this paper,we adapt the technique of hindsight optimization from on-line schedulingand probabilistic planning to create an anticipatory on-line planningalgorithm. Using an estimate of the goal arrival distribution, wesample possible futures and use a deterministic planner to estimate thevalue of taking possible actions at each time step. Results in twobenchmark domains based on unmanned aerial vehicle planning andmanufacturing suggest that an anticipatory approach yields a superiorplanner that is sensitive not only to which action should be executed,but when.

Temporal Planning while the Clock Ticks

AAAI Conferences

One of the original motivations for domain-independent planning was to generate plans that would then be executed in the environment. However, most existing planners ignore the passage of time during planning. While this can work well when absolute time does not play a role, this approach can lead to plans failing when there are external timing constraints, such as deadlines. In this paper, we describe a new approach for time-sensitive temporal planning. Our planner is aware of the fact that plan execution will start only once planning finishes, and incorporates this information into its decision making, in order to focus the search on branches that are more likely to lead to plans that will be feasible when the planner finishes.

SAPA: A Multi-objective Metric Temporal Planner

Journal of Artificial Intelligence Research

SAPA is a domain-independent heuristic forward chaining planner that can handle durative actions, metric resource constraints, and deadline goals. It is designed to be capable of handling the multi-objective nature of metric temporal planning. Our technical contributions include (i) planning-graph based methods for deriving heuristics that are sensitive to both cost and makespan (ii) techniques for adjusting the heuristic estimates to take action interactions and metric resource limitations into account and (iii) a linear time greedy post-processing technique to improve execution flexibility of the solution plans. An implementation of SAPA using many of the techniques presented in this paper was one of the best domain independent planners for domains with metric and temporal constraints in the third International Planning Competition, held at AIPS-02. We describe the technical details of extracting the heuristics and present an empirical evaluation of the current implementation of SAPA.