Main Article Content
This paper presents an overview and synthesis of MDP-related methods, showing how they provide a unifying framework for modeling many classes of planning problems studied in AI. It also describes structural properties of MDPs that, when exhibited by particular classes of problems, can be exploited in the construction of optimal or approximately optimal policies or plans. Planning problems commonly possess structure in the reward and value functions used to describe performance criteria, in the functions used to describe state transitions and observations, and in the relationships among features used to describe states, actions, rewards, and observations.
Specialized representations, and algorithms employing these representations, can achieve computational leverage by exploiting these various forms of structure. Certain AI techniques -- in particular those based on the use of structured, intensional representations -- can be viewed in this way. This paper surveys several types of representations for both classical and decision-theoretic planning problems, and planning algorithms that exploit these representations in a number of different ways to ease the computational burden of constructing policies or plans. It focuses primarily on abstraction, aggregation and decomposition techniques based on AI-style representations.