Time-Bounded Best-First Search for Reversible and Non-reversible Search Graphs

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Time-Bounded A* is a real-time, single-agent, deterministic search algorithm that expands states of a graph in the same order as A* does, but that unlike A* interleaves search and action execution. Known to outperform state-of-the-art real-time search algorithms based on Korf's Learning Real-Time A* (LRTA*) in some benchmarks, it has not been studied in detail and is sometimes not considered as a ``true'' real-time search algorithm since it fails in non-reversible problems even it the goal is still reachable from the current state. In this paper we propose and study Time-Bounded Best-First Search (TB(BFS)) a straightforward generalization of the time-bounded approach to any best-first search algorithm. Furthermore, we propose Restarting Time-Bounded Weighted A* (TB_R(WA*)), an algorithm that deals more adequately with non-reversible search graphs, eliminating ``backtracking moves'' and incorporating search restarts and heuristic learning. In non-reversible problems we prove that TB(BFS) terminates and we deduce cost bounds for the solutions returned by Time-Bounded Weighted A* (TB(WA*)), an instance of TB(BFS). Furthermore, we prove TB_R(WA*), under reasonable conditions, terminates. We evaluate TB(WA) in both grid pathfinding and the 15-puzzle. In addition, we evaluate TB_R(WA*) on the racetrack problem. We compare our algorithms to LSS-LRTWA*, a variant of LRTA* that can exploit lookahead search and a weighted heuristic. A general observation is that the performance of both TB(WA*) and TB_R(WA*) improves as the weight parameter is increased. In addition, our time-bounded algorithms almost always outperform LSS-LRTWA* by a significant margin.

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