HTN Planning as Heuristic Progression Search

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Daniel Höller
Pascal Bercher
Gregor Behnke
Susanne Biundo


The majority of search-based HTN planning systems can be divided into those searching a space of partial plans (a plan space) and those performing progression search, i.e., that build the solution in a forward manner. So far, all HTN planners that guide the search by using heuristic functions are based on plan space search. Those systems represent the set of search nodes more effectively by maintaining a partial ordering between tasks, but they have only limited information about the current state during search. In this article, we propose the use of progression search as basis for heuristic HTN planning systems. Such systems can calculate their heuristics incorporating the current state, because it is tracked during search. Our contribution is the following: We introduce two novel progression algorithms that avoid unnecessary branching when the problem at hand is partially ordered and show that both are sound and complete. We show that defining systematicity is problematic for search in HTN planning, propose a definition, and show that it is fulfilled by one of our algorithms. Then, we introduce a method to apply arbitrary classical planning heuristics to guide the search in HTN planning. It relaxes the HTN planning model to a classical model that is only used for calculating heuristics. It is updated during search and used to create heuristic values that are used to guide the HTN search. We show that it can be used to create HTN heuristics with interesting theoretical properties like safety, goal-awareness, and admissibility. Our empirical evaluation shows that the resulting system outperforms the state of the art in search-based HTN planning.

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