BDD Ordering Heuristics for Classical Planning

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P. Kissmann
J. Hoffmann


Symbolic search using binary decision diagrams (BDDs) can often save large amounts of memory due to its concise representation of state sets. A decisive factor for this method's success is the chosen variable ordering. Generally speaking, it is plausible that dependent variables should be brought close together in order to reduce BDD sizes. In planning, variable dependencies are typically captured by means of causal graphs, and in preceding work these were taken as the basis for finding BDD variable orderings. Starting from the observation that the two concepts of "dependency" are actually quite different, we introduce a framework for assessing the strength of variable ordering heuristics in sub-classes of planning. It turns out that, even for extremely simple planning tasks, causal graph based variable orders may be exponentially worse than optimal.

Experimental results on a wide range of variable ordering variants corroborate our theoretical findings. Furthermore, we show that dynamic reordering is much more effective at reducing BDD size, but it is not cost-effective due to a prohibitive runtime overhead. We exhibit the potential of middle-ground techniques, running dynamic reordering until simple stopping criteria hold.

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