Bounds Arc Consistency for Weighted CSPs

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The Weighted Constraint Satisfaction Problem (WCSP) framework allows representing and solving problems involving both hard constraints and cost functions. It has been applied to various problems, including resource allocation, bioinformatics, scheduling, etc. To solve such problems, solvers usually rely on branch-and-bound algorithms equipped with local consistency filtering, mostly soft arc consistency. However, these techniques are not well suited to solve problems with very large domains. Motivated by the resolution of an RNA gene localization problem inside large genomic sequences, and in the spirit of bounds consistency for large domains in crisp CSPs, we introduce soft bounds arc consistency, a new weighted local consistency specifically designed for WCSP with very large domains. Compared to soft arc consistency, BAC provides significantly improved time and space asymptotic complexity. In this paper, we show how the semantics of cost functions can be exploited to further improve the time complexity of BAC. We also compare both in theory and in practice the efficiency of BAC on a WCSP with bounds consistency enforced on a crisp CSP using cost variables. On two different real problems modeled as WCSP, including our RNA gene localization problem, we observe that maintaining bounds arc consistency outperforms arc consistency and also improves over bounds consistency enforced on a constraint model with cost variables.

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