Online Speedup Learning for Optimal Planning

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Domain-independent planning is one of the foundational areas in the field of Artificial Intelligence. A description of a planning task consists of an initial world state, a goal, and a set of actions for modifying the world state. The objective is to find a sequence of actions, that is, a plan, that transforms the initial world state into a goal state. In optimal planning, we are interested in finding not just a plan, but one of the cheapest plans. A prominent approach to optimal planning these days is heuristic

state-space search, guided by admissible heuristic functions. Numerous admissible heuristics have been developed, each with its own strengths and weaknesses, and it is well known that there is no single "best'' heuristic for optimal planning in general. Thus, which heuristic to choose for a given planning task is a difficult question. This difficulty can be avoided by combining several heuristics, but that requires computing numerous heuristic estimates at each state, and the tradeoff between the time spent doing so and the time saved by the combined advantages of the different heuristics might be high. We present a novel method that reduces the cost of combining admissible heuristics for optimal planning, while maintaining its benefits. Using an idealized search space model, we formulate a decision rule for choosing the best heuristic to compute at each state. We then present an active online learning approach for learning a classifier with that decision rule as the target concept, and employ the learned classifier to decide which heuristic to compute at each state. We evaluate this technique empirically, and show that it substantially outperforms the standard method for combining several heuristics via their pointwise maximum.

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