Author's School

School of Engineering & Applied Science

Author's Department/Program

Computer Science and Engineering


English (en)

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Chair and Committee

Yixin Chen


Problem solving usually strongly relies on how the problem is formulated. This fact also applies to automated planning, a key field in artificial intelligence research. Classical planning used to be dominated by STRIPS formulation, a simple model based on propositional logic. In the recently introduced SAS+ formulation, the multi-valued variables naturally depict certain invariants that are missed in STRIPS, make SAS+ have many favorable features. Because of its rich structural information SAS+ begins to attract lots of research interest. Existing works, however, are mostly limited to one single thing: to improve heuristic functions. This is in sharp contrast with the abundance of planning models and techniques in the field. On the other hand, although heuristic is a key part for search, its effectiveness is limited. Recent investigations have shown that even if we have almost perfect heuristics, the number of states to visit is still exponential. Therefore, there is a barrier between the nice features of SAS+ and its applications in planning algorithms. In this dissertation, we have recasted two major planning paradigms: state space search and planning as Satisfiability: SAT), with three major contributions. First, we have utilized SAS+ for a new hierarchical state space search model by taking advantage of the decomposable structure within SAS+. This algorithm can greatly reduce the time complexity for planning. Second, planning as Satisfiability is a major planning approach, but it is traditionally based on STRIPS. We have developed a new SAS+ based SAT encoding scheme: SASE) for planning. The state space modeled by SASE shows a decomposable structure with certain components independent to others, showing promising structure that STRIPS based encoding does not have. Third, the expressiveness of planning is important for real world scenarios, thus we have also extended the planning as SAT to temporally expressive planning and planning with action costs, two advanced features beyond classical planning. The resulting planner is competitive to state-of-the-art planners, in terms of both quality and performance. Overall, our work strongly suggests a shifting trend of planning from STRIPS to SAS+, and shows the power of formulating planning problems as Satisfiability. Given the important roles of both classical planning and temporal planning, our work will inspire new developments in other advanced planning problem domains.


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