Semi-Black Box: Rapid Development of Planning Based Solutions


  • Michael Katz IBM T.J. Watson Research Center
  • Dany Moshkovich IBM Watson Health
  • Erez Karpas Technion - Israel Institute of Technology


Automated Planning, Modeling


Software developers nowadays not infrequently face a challenge of solving problems that essentially sum up to finding a sequence of deterministic actions leading from a given initial state to a goal. This is the problem of deterministic planning, one of the most basic and well studied problems in artificial intelligence. Two of the best known approaches to deterministic planning are the black box approach, in which a programmer implements a successor generator, and the model-based approach, in which a user describes the problem symbolically, e.g., in PDDL. While the black box approach is usually easier for programmers who are not experts in AI to understand, it does not scale up without informative heuristics. We propose an approach that we baptize as semi-black box (SBB) that combines the strength of both. SBB is implemented as a set of Java classes, which a programmer can inherit from when implementing a successor generator. Using the known characteristics of these classes, we then automatically derive heuristics for the problem. Our empirical evaluation shows that these heuristics allow the planner to scale up significantly better than the traditional black box approach.




How to Cite

Katz, M., Moshkovich, D., & Karpas, E. (2018). Semi-Black Box: Rapid Development of Planning Based Solutions. Proceedings of the AAAI Conference on Artificial Intelligence, 32(1). Retrieved from