Loosely Coupled Formulations for Automated Planning: An Integer Programming Perspective

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We represent planning as a set of loosely coupled network flow problems, where each network corresponds to one of the state variables in the planning domain. The network nodes correspond to the state variable values and the network arcs correspond to the value transitions. The planning problem is to find a path (a sequence of actions) in each network such that, when merged, they constitute a feasible plan. In this paper we present a number of integer programming formulations that model these loosely coupled networks with varying degrees of flexibility. Since merging may introduce exponentially many ordering constraints we implement a so-called branch-and-cut algorithm, in which these constraints are dynamically generated and added to the formulation when needed. Our results are very promising, they improve upon previous planning as integer programming approaches and lay the foundation for integer programming approaches for cost optimal planning.

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