Best-First Search for Bounded-Depth Trees
Keywords:heuristic search, constraint satisfaction, combinatorial optimization
Tree search is a common technique for solving constraint satisfaction and combinatorial optimization problems. The most popular strategies are depth-first search and limited discrepancy search. Aside from pruning or ordering the children of each node, these algorithms do not adapt their search order to take advantage of information that becomes available during search, such as heuristic scores or leaf costs. We present a framework called best-leaf-first search (BLFS) that uses this additional information to estimate the cost of taking discrepancies in the search tree and then attempts to visit leaves in a best-first order. In this way, BLFS brings the idea of best-first search from shortest path problems to the areas of constraint satisfaction and combinatorial optimization. Empirical results demonstrate that this new dynamic approach results in better search performance than previous static search strategies on two very different domains: structured CSPs and the traveling salesman problem.