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ICAPS best paper award for Dana Nau, Vikas Shivashankar and colleagues

Research from two University of Maryland scholars and three of their counterparts in Australia has won the Outstanding Student Paper Award for the 2014 International Conference on Automated Planning and Scheduling.

"Optimal Planning with Global Numerical State Constraints" was written by Computer Science Ph.D. student Vikas Shivashankar, Professor Dana Nau (CS/ISR) and Franc Ivankovic, Patrik Haslum and Sylvie Thiebaux, of the Optimisation Research Group, NICTA (Australia Information Communications Technology Research Centre of Excellence) and the Research School of Computer Science at Australia National University.

The paper was selected from a record number of 164 submissions for the conference. The award will be presented at the conference in Portsmouth, N.H. this June. ICAPS is the premier conference for AI planning research.

The research addresses automating the operations of infrastructure networks such as energy grids and oil pipelines, which require a range of planning and optimization technologies. Current planners face significant challenges in responding to this need—for example, they are unable to model and reason about the global numerical state constraints necessary to capture flows and similar physical phenomena occurring in these networks. A single discrete control action can affect the flow throughout the network in a way that may depend on the entire network topology. Determining whether preconditions, goals and invariant conditions are satisfied requires solving a system of numerical constraints after each action application. The paper extends domain-independent optimal planning to this kind of reasoning. It presents extensions of the formalism, relaxed plans, and heuristics, as well as new search variants and experimental results on two problem domains.

The paper stems from Nau’s 2013 sabbatical in Australia.

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April 15, 2014

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