AAAI Publications, Thirteenth Annual Symposium on Combinatorial Search

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New Techniques for Pairwise Symmetry Breaking in Multi-Agent Path Finding
Jiaoyang Li, Graeme Gange, Daniel Harabor, Peter J. Stuckey, Hang Ma, Sven Koenig

Last modified: 2020-05-08


We consider two new types of pairwise path symmetries which appear in the context of Multi-Agent Path Finding (MAPF). The first of them, corridor symmetry, arises when two agents attempt to pass through the same narrow passage but in opposite directions. The second, target symmetry, arises when the shortest path of one agent requires the target location of a second agent after the second agent has already arrived. These symmetries can produce an exponential blowup in the space of possible collision resolutions, leading to timeout failure even for state-of-the-art algorithms such as Conflict-Based Search. We propose to break symmetries using new reasoning techniques that: (1) detect each type of situation and, (2) resolve them by introducing specialized constraints. We implement our ideas in the context of Conflict-Based Search where, in a range of experiments, we report up to an order-of-magnitude improvement in runtime performance and, in some cases, more than a doubling in success rate.

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