Monitoring the Generation and Execution of Optimal Plans. Fritz, C. Ph.D. Thesis, University of Toronto, April, 2009. Best Thesis Runner-Up Award at ICAPS 2010.
Monitoring the Generation and Execution of Optimal Plans [pdf]Paper  Monitoring the Generation and Execution of Optimal Plans [link]Web  abstract   bibtex   

In dynamic domains, the state of the world may change in unexpected ways during the generation or execution of plans. Regardless of the cause of such changes, they raise the question of whether they interfere with ongoing planning efforts. Unexpected changes during plan generation may invalidate the current planning effort, while discrepancies between expected and actual state of the world during execution may render the executing plan invalid or sub-optimal, with respect to previously identified planning objectives.

In this thesis we develop a general monitoring technique that can be used during both plan generation and plan execution to determine the relevance of unexpected changes and which supports recovery. This way, time intensive replanning from scratch in the new and unexpected state can often be avoided. The technique can be applied to a variety of objectives, including monitoring the optimality of plans, rather then just their validity. Intuitively, the technique operates in two steps: during planning the plan is annotated with additional information that is relevant to the achievement of the objective; then, when an unexpected change occurs, this information is used to determine the relevance of the discrepancy with respect to the objective.

We substantiate the claim of broad applicability of this relevance-based technique by developing four concrete applications: generating optimal plans despite frequent, unexpected changes to the initial state of the world, monitoring plan optimality during execution, monitoring the execution of near-optimal policies in stochastic domains, and monitoring the generation and execution of plans with procedural hard constraints. In all cases, we use the formal notion of regression to identify what is relevant for achieving the objective. e prove the soundness of these concrete approaches and present empirical results demonstrating that in some contexts orders of magnitude speed-ups can be gained by our technique compared to replanning from scratch.

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