Constraint logic programming is a paradigm based on the notion of constraints and mechanisms for their resolution. The new concept of solver collaboration enables to solve problems that cannot be tackled or efficiently soh, ed with a single solver. We propose BALI, an environment for designing/executing solver collaborations. BALI is a heterogeneous distributed collaborativc problem solving system. The general view consists in doing scveral solvers collaborate in order to process constraints that cannot be solvcd (or efficiently solved) by a single solver.
In many real-life optimisation problems, there are multiple interacting components in a solution. For example, different components might specify assignments to different kinds of resource. Often, each component is associated with different sets of soft constraints, and so with different measures of soft constraint violation. The goal is then to minimise a linear combination of such measures. This paper studies an approach to such problems, which can be thought of as multiphase exploitation of multiple objective-/value-restricted submodels. In this approach, only one computationally difficult component of a problem and the associated subset of objectives is considered at first. This produces partial solutions, which define interesting neighbourhoods in the search space of the complete problem. Often, it is possible to pick the initial component so that variable aggregation can be performed at the first stage, and the neighbourhoods to be explored next are guaranteed to contain feasible solutions. Using integer programming, it is then easy to implement heuristics producing solutions with bounds on their quality. Our study is performed on a university course timetabling problem used in the 2007 International Timetabling Competition, also known as the Udine Course Timetabling Problem. In the proposed heuristic, an objective-restricted neighbourhood generator produces assignments of periods to events, with decreasing numbers of violations of two period-related soft constraints. Those are relaxed into assignments of events to days, which define neighbourhoods that are easier to search with respect to all four soft constraints. Integer programming formulations for all subproblems are given and evaluated using ILOG CPLEX 11. The wider applicability of this approach is analysed and discussed.
In Constraint Programming (CP) a portfolio solver combines a variety of different constraint solvers for solving a given problem. This fairly recent approach enables to significantly boost the performance of single solvers, especially when multicore architectures are exploited. In this work we give a brief overview of the portfolio solver sunny-cp, and we discuss its performance in the MiniZinc Challenge---the annual international competition for CP solvers---where it won two gold medals in 2015 and 2016. Under consideration in Theory and Practice of Logic Programming (TPLP)
The focus of my PhD thesis is on exploring parallel approaches to efficiently solve problems modeled by constraints and presenting a new proposal. Current solvers are very advanced; they are carefully designed to effectively manage the high-level problems' description and include refined strategies to avoid useless work. Despite this, finding a solution can take an unacceptable amount of time. Parallelization can mitigate this problem when the instance of the problem modeled is large, as it happens in real world problems. It is done by propagating constraints in parallel and concurrently exploring different parts of the search space. I am developing on a constraint solver that exploits the many cores available on Graphics Processing Units (GPU) to speed up the search.