Interleaving Search and Heuristic Improvement
Abstraction heuristics are a leading approach for deriving admissible estimates in cost-optimal planning. However, a drawback with respect to other families of heuristics is that they require a preprocessing phase for choosing the abstraction, computing the abstract distances, and/or suitable cost-partitionings. Typically, this is performed in advance by a fixed amount of time, even though some instances could be solved much faster with little or no preprocessing. We interleave the computation of abstraction heuristics with search, avoiding a long precomputation phase and allowing information from the search to be used for guiding the abstraction selection. To evaluate our ideas, we implement them on a planner that uses a single symbolic PDB. Our results show that delaying the preprocessing is not harmful in general even when an important amount of preprocessing is required to obtain good performance.