AAAI Publications, Thirty-First AAAI Conference on Artificial Intelligence

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Incorporating Domain-Independent Planning Heuristics in Hierarchical Planning
Vikas Shivashankar, Ron Alford, David W. Aha

Last modified: 2017-02-12


Heuristics serve as a powerful tool in modern domain-independent planning (DIP) systems by providing critical guidance during the search for high-quality solutions. However, they have not been broadly used with hierarchical planning techniques, which are more expressive and tend to scale better in complex domains by exploiting additional domain-specific knowledge. Complicating matters, we show that for Hierarchical Goal Network (HGN) planning, a goal-based hierarchical planning formalism that we focus on in this paper, any poly-time heuristic that is derived from a delete-relaxation DIP heuristic has to make some relaxation of the hierarchical semantics. To address this, we present a principled framework for incorporating DIP heuristics into HGN planning using a simple relaxation of the HGN semantics we call Hierarchy-Relaxation. This framework allows for computing heuristic estimates of HGN problems using any DIP heuristic in an admissibility-preserving manner. We demonstrate the feasibility of this approach by using the LMCut heuristic to guide an optimal HGN planner. Our empirical results with three benchmark domains demonstrate that simultaneously leveraging hierarchical knowledge and heuristic guidance substantially improves planning performance.


Hierarchical Planning; HGN Planning; Heuristic Search; Optimal Planning

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