Automaton Plans

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Macros have long been used in planning to represent subsequences of operators. Macros can be used in place of individual operators during search, sometimes reducing the effort required to find a plan to the goal. Another use of macros is to compactly represent long plans. In this paper we introduce a novel solution concept called automaton plans in which plans are represented using hierarchies of automata. Automaton plans can be viewed as an extension of macros that enables parameterization and branching. We provide several examples that illustrate how automaton plans can be useful, both as a compact representation of exponentially long plans and as an alternative to sequential solutions in benchmark domains such as Logistics and Grid. We also compare automaton plans to other compact plan representations from the literature, and find that automaton plans are strictly more expressive than macros, but strictly less expressive than HTNs and certain representations allowing efficient sequential access to the operators of the plan.

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