Domain Filtering Consistencies

Journal of Artificial Intelligence Research

Enforcing local consistencies is one of the main features of constraint reasoning. Which level of local consistency should be used when searching for solutions in a constraint network is a basic question. Arc consistency and partial forms of arc consistency have been widely studied, and have been known for sometime through the forward checking or the MAC search algorithms. Until recently, stronger forms of local consistency remained limited to those that change the structure of the constraint graph, and thus, could not be used in practice, especially on large networks. This paper focuses on the local consistencies that are stronger than arc consistency, without changing the structure of the network, i.e., only removing inconsistent values from the domains. In the last five years, several such local consistencies have been proposed by us or by others. We make an overview of all of them, and highlight some relations between them. We compare them both theoretically and experimentally, considering their pruning efficiency and the time required to enforce them.


Solving Difficult CSPs with Relational Neighborhood Inverse Consistency

AAAI Conferences

Freuder and Elfe (1996) introduced Neighborhood Inverse Consistency (NIC) as a strong local consistency property for binary CSPs. While enforcing NIC can significantly filter the variables domains, the proposed algorithm is too costly to be used on dense graphs or for lookahead during search. In this paper, we introduce and characterize Relational Neighborhood Inverse Consistency (RNIC) as a local consistency property that operates on the dual graph of a non-binary CSP. We describe and characterize a practical algorithm for enforcing it. We argue that defining RNIC on the dual graph unveils unsuspected opportunities to reduce the computational cost of our algorithm and increase its filtering effectiveness. We show how to achieve those effects by modifying the topology of the dual graph, yielding new variations the RNIC property. We also introduce an adaptive strategy to automatically select the appropriate property to enforce given the connectivity of the dual graph. We integrate the resulting techniques as full lookahead strategies in a backtrack search procedure for solving CSPs, and demonstrate the effectiveness of our approach for solving known difficult benchmark problems.


Maintaining Alternative Values in Constraint-Based Configuration

AAAI Conferences

Constraint programming techniques are widely used to model and solve interactive decision problems, and especially configuration problems. In this type of application, the configurable product is described by means of a set of constraints bearing on the configuration variables. The user interactively solves the CSP by assigning the variables according to her preferences. The system then has to keep the domains of the other variables consistent with these choices. Since maintaining the global inverse consistency of the domains is not tractable, the domains are instead filtered according to some level of local consistency, e.g. arc-consistency. The present paper aims at offering a more convenient interaction by providing the user with possible alternative values for the already assigned variables, i.e. values that could replace the current ones without leading to a constraint violation. We thus present the new concept of alternative domains in a (possibly) partially assigned CSP. We propose a propagation algorithm that computes all the alternative domains in a single step. Its worst case complexity is comparable to the one of the naive algorithm that would run a full propagation for each variable, but its experimental efficiency is better


Domain Filtering Consistencies

arXiv.org Artificial Intelligence

Enforcing local consistencies is one of the main features of constraint reasoning. Which level of local consistency should be used when searching for solutions in a constraint network is a basic question. Arc consistency and partial forms of arc consistency have been widely studied, and have been known for sometime through the forward checking or the MAC search algorithms. Until recently, stronger forms of local consistency remained limited to those that change the structure of the constraint graph, and thus, could not be used in practice, especially on large networks. This paper focuses on the local consistencies that are stronger than arc consistency, without changing the structure of the network, i.e., only removing inconsistent values from the domains. In the last five years, several such local consistencies have been proposed by us or by others. We make an overview of all of them, and highlight some relations between them. We compare them both theoretically and experimentally, considering their pruning efficiency and the time required to enforce them.


Adaptive Neighborhood Inverse Consistency as Lookahead for Non-Binary CSPs

AAAI Conferences

Freuder and Elfe (1996) introduced Neighborhood Inverse Consistency (NIC) for binary CSPs. In this paper, we introduce RNIC, the extension of NIC to non-binary CSPs, and describe a practical algorithm for enforcing it. We propose an adaptive strategy to weaken or strengthen this property based on the connectivity of the network. We demonstrate the effectiveness of RNIC as a full lookahead strategy during search for solving difficult benchmark problems.