Top-Quality Planning: Finding Practically Useful Sets of Best Plans
The need for finding a set of plans rather than one has been motivated by a variety of planning applications. The problem is studied in the context of both diverse and top-k planning: while diverse planning focuses on the difference between pairs of plans, the focus of top-k planning is on the quality of each individual plan. Recent work in diverse planning introduced additionally restrictions on solution quality. Naturally, there are application domains where diversity plays the major role and domains where quality is the predominant feature. In both cases, however, the amount of produced plans is often an artificial constraint, and therefore the actual number has little meaning.
Inspired by the recent work in diverse planning, we propose a new family of computational problems called top-quality planning, where solution validity is defined through plan quality bound rather than an arbitrary number of plans. Switching to bounding plan quality allows us to implicitly represent sets of plans. In particular, it makes it possible to represent sets of plans that correspond to valid plan reorderings with a single plan. We formally define the unordered top-quality planning computational problem and present the first planner for that problem. We empirically demonstrate the superior performance of our approach compared to a top-k planner-based baseline, ranging from 41% increase in coverage for finding all optimal plans to 69% increase in coverage for finding all plans of quality up to 120% of optimal plan cost. Finally, complementing the new approach by a complete procedure for generating all valid reorderings of a given plan, we derive a top-quality planner. We show the planner to be competitive with a top-k planner based baseline.