TRAINS-95: Towards a Mixed-Initiative Planning Assistant

George Ferguson, James Allen, and Brad Miller, University of Rochester

We have been examining mixed-initiative planning systems in the context of command and control or logistical overview situations. In such environments, the human and the computer must work together in a very tightly coupled way to solve problems that neither alone could manage. In this paper, we describe our implementation of a prototype version of such a system, TRAINS-95, which helps a manager solve routing problems in a simple transportation domain. Interestingly perhaps, traditional planning technology does not play a major role in the system, and in fact it is difficult to see how such components might fit into a mixed-initiative system. We describe some of these issues, and present our agenda for future research into mixed-initiative plan reasoning. At this writing, the TRAINS-95 system has been used by more than 100 people to solve simple problems at various conferences and workshops, and in our experiments.


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