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Best-First Heuristic Search for Multicore Machines

Journal of Artificial Intelligence Research

To harness modern multicore processors, it is imperative to develop parallel versions of fundamental algorithms. In this paper, we compare different approaches to parallel best-first search in a shared-memory setting. We present a new method, PBNF, that uses abstraction to partition the state space and to detect duplicate states without requiring frequent locking. PBNF allows speculative expansions when necessary to keep threads busy. We identify and fix potential livelock conditions in our approach, proving its correctness using temporal logic. Our approach is general, allowing it to extend easily to suboptimal and anytime heuristic search. In an empirical comparison on STRIPS planning, grid pathfinding, and sliding tile puzzle problems using 8-core machines, we show that A*, weighted A* and Anytime weighted A* implemented using PBNF yield faster search than improved versions of previous parallel search proposals.



Time-Bounded Best-First Search for Reversible and Non-reversible Search Graphs

Journal of Artificial Intelligence Research

Time-Bounded A* is a real-time, single-agent, deterministic search algorithm that expands states of a graph in the same order as A* does, but that unlike A* interleaves search and action execution. Known to outperform state-of-the-art real-time search algorithms based on Korf's Learning Real-Time A* (LRTA*) in some benchmarks, it has not been studied in detail and is sometimes not considered as a ``true'' real-time search algorithm since it fails in non-reversible problems even it the goal is still reachable from the current state. In this paper we propose and study Time-Bounded Best-First Search (TB(BFS)) a straightforward generalization of the time-bounded approach to any best-first search algorithm. Furthermore, we propose Restarting Time-Bounded Weighted A* (TB_R(WA*)), an algorithm that deals more adequately with non-reversible search graphs, eliminating ``backtracking moves'' and incorporating search restarts and heuristic learning. In non-reversible problems we prove that TB(BFS) terminates and we deduce cost bounds for the solutions returned by Time-Bounded Weighted A* (TB(WA*)), an instance of TB(BFS). Furthermore, we prove TB_R(WA*), under reasonable conditions, terminates. We evaluate TB(WA) in both grid pathfinding and the 15-puzzle. In addition, we evaluate TB_R(WA*) on the racetrack problem. We compare our algorithms to LSS-LRTWA*, a variant of LRTA* that can exploit lookahead search and a weighted heuristic. A general observation is that the performance of both TB(WA*) and TB_R(WA*) improves as the weight parameter is increased. In addition, our time-bounded algorithms almost always outperform LSS-LRTWA* by a significant margin.


Best-First Enumeration Based on Bounding Conflicts, and its Application to Large-scale Hybrid Estimation

Journal of Artificial Intelligence Research

There is an increasing desire for autonomous systems to have high levels of robustness and safety, attained through continuously planning and self-repairing online. Underlying this is the need to accurately estimate the system state and diagnose subtle failures. Estimation methods based on hybrid discrete and continuous state models have emerged as a method of precisely computing these estimates. However, existing methods have difficulty scaling to systems with more than a handful of components. Discrete, consistency based state estimation capabilities can scale to this level by combining best-first enumeration and conflict-directed search.