Trial-Based Heuristic Tree Search for MDPs with Factored Action Spaces


  • Florian Geißer Australian National University
  • David Speck University of Freiburg
  • Thomas Keller University of Basel


MDPs with factored action spaces, i.e., where actions are described as assignments to a set of action variables, allow reasoning over action variables instead of action states, yet most algorithms only consider a grounded action representation. This includes algorithms that are instantiations of the Trial-based Heuristic Tree Search (THTS) framework, such as AO* or UCT. To be able to reason over factored action spaces, we propose a generalization of THTS where nodes that branch over all applicable actions are replaced with subtrees that consist of nodes that represent the decision for a single action variable. We show that many THTS algorithms retain their theoretical properties under the generalised framework, and show how to approximate any state-action heuristic to a heuristic for partial action assignments. This allows to guide a UCT variant that is able to create exponentially fewer nodes than the same algorithm that considers ground actions. An empirical evaluation on the benchmark set of the probabilistic track of the latest International Planning Competition validates the benefits of the approach.