Fast and Loose in Bounded Suboptimal Heuristic Search

Jordan T. Thayer, Wheeler Ruml, Ephrat Bitton

Applications often demand we tackle problems that are too large to solve optimally. In this paper, our aim is to solve shortest-path problems as quickly as possible while guaranteeing that solution costs are bounded within a specified factor of optimal. We explore two approaches. First, we extend the approach taken by weighted A*, in which all expanded nodes are guaranteed to remain within the bound. We prove that a looser bound than weighted A*'s can be used and show how an arbitrary inadmissible heuristic can be employed. As an example, we show how temporal difference learning can learn a heuristic on-line. Second, we show how an optimistic search that expands nodes potentially outside the bound can be modified to ensure bounded solution quality. We test these methods on grid-world path-finding and temporal planning benchmarks, showing that these methods can surpass weighted A*'s performance.

Subjects: 15.7 Search; 1.11 Planning

Submitted: May 5, 2008

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