Main Article Content
Mutex groups are defined in the context of STRIPS planning as sets of facts out of which, maximally, one can be true in any state reachable from the initial state. The importance of computing and exploiting mutex groups was repeatedly pointed out in many studies. However, the theoretical analysis of mutex groups is sparse in current literature. This work provides a complexity analysis showing that inference of mutex groups is as hard as planning itself (PSPACE-Complete) and it also shows a tight relationship between mutex groups and graph cliques. This result motivates us to propose a new type of mutex group called a fact-alternating mutex group (fam-group) of which inference is NP-Complete. Moreover, we introduce an algorithm for the inference of fam-groups based on integer linear programming that is complete with respect to the maximal fam-groups and we demonstrate how beneficial fam-groups can be in the translation of planning tasks into finite domain representation. Finally, we show that fam-groups can be used for the detection of dead-end states and we propose a simple algorithm for the pruning of operators and facts as a preprocessing step that takes advantage of the properties of fam-groups. The experimental evaluation of the pruning algorithm shows a substantial increase in a number of solved tasks in domains from the optimal deterministic track of the last two planning competitions (IPC 2011 and 2014).