The Complexity of Optimal Monotonic Planning: The Bad, The Good, and The Causal Graph

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For almost two decades, monotonic, or ``delete free,'' relaxation has been one of the key auxiliary tools in the practice of domain-independent deterministic planning. In the particular contexts of both satisficing and optimal planning, it underlies most state-of-the-art heuristic functions. While satisficing planning for monotonic tasks is polynomial-time, optimal planning for monotonic tasks is NP-equivalent. Here we establish both negative and positive results on the complexity of some wide fragments of optimal monotonic planning, with the fragments being defined around the causal graph topology. Our results shed some light on the link between the complexity of general optimal planning and the complexity of optimal planning for the respective monotonic relaxations.

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