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58
The Constrainedness of Search
 In Proceedings of AAAI96
, 1999
"... We propose a definition of `constrainedness' that unifies two of the most common but informal uses of the term. These are that branching heuristics in search algorithms often try to make the most "constrained" choice, and that hard search problems tend to be "critically constrained". Our definition ..."
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Cited by 117 (26 self)
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We propose a definition of `constrainedness' that unifies two of the most common but informal uses of the term. These are that branching heuristics in search algorithms often try to make the most "constrained" choice, and that hard search problems tend to be "critically constrained". Our definition of constrainedness generalizes a number of parameters used to study phase transition behaviour in a wide variety of problem domains. As well as predicting the location of phase transitions in solubility, constrainedness provides insight into why problems at phase transitions tend to be hard to solve. Such problems are on a constrainedness "knifeedge", and we must search deep into the problem before they look more or less soluble. Heuristics that try to get off this knifeedge as quickly as possible by, for example, minimizing the constrainedness are often very effective. We show that heuristics from a wide variety of problem domains can be seen as minimizing the constrainedness (or proxies ...
Locating the Phase Transition in Binary Constraint Satisfaction Problems
 Artificial Intelligence
, 1994
"... The phase transition in binary constraint satisfaction problems, i.e. the transition from a region in which almost all problems have many solutions to a region in which almost all problems have no solutions, as the constraints become tighter, is investigated by examining the behaviour of samples of ..."
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Cited by 112 (4 self)
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The phase transition in binary constraint satisfaction problems, i.e. the transition from a region in which almost all problems have many solutions to a region in which almost all problems have no solutions, as the constraints become tighter, is investigated by examining the behaviour of samples of randomlygenerated problems. In contrast to theoretical work, which is concerned with the asymptotic behaviour of problems as the number of variables becomes larger, this paper is concerned with the location of the phase transition in finite problems. The accuracy of a prediction based on the expected number of solutions is discussed; it is shown that the variance of the number of solutions can be used to set bounds on the phase transition and to indicate the accuracy of the prediction. A class of sparse problems, for which the prediction is known to be inaccurate, is considered in detail; it is shown that, for these problems, the phase transition depends on the topology of the constraint gr...
Building decision procedures for modal logics from propositional decision procedures  The case study of modal K(m)
, 1996
"... The goal of this paper is to propose a new technique for developing decision procedures for propositional modal logics. The basic idea is that propositional modal decision procedures should be developed on top of propositional decision procedures. As a case study, we consider satisfiability in m ..."
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Cited by 95 (29 self)
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The goal of this paper is to propose a new technique for developing decision procedures for propositional modal logics. The basic idea is that propositional modal decision procedures should be developed on top of propositional decision procedures. As a case study, we consider satisfiability in modal K(m), that is modal K with m modalities, and develop an algorithm, called Ksat, on top of an implementation of the DavisPutnamLongemannLoveland procedure. Ksat is thoroughly tested and compared with various procedures and in particular with the stateoftheart tableaubased system Kris. The experimental results show that Ksat outperforms Kris and the other systems of orders of magnitude, highlight an intrinsic weakness of tableaubased decision procedures, and provide partial evidence of a phase transition phenomenon for K(m).
The hardest constraint problems: A double phase transition
 Artif. Intell
, 1994
"... The distribution of hard graph coloring problems as a function of graph connectivity is shown to have two distinct transition behaviors. The first, previously recognized, is a peak in the median search cost near the connectivity at which half the graphs have solutions. This region contains a high pr ..."
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Cited by 88 (2 self)
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The distribution of hard graph coloring problems as a function of graph connectivity is shown to have two distinct transition behaviors. The first, previously recognized, is a peak in the median search cost near the connectivity at which half the graphs have solutions. This region contains a high proportion of relatively hard problem instances. However, the hardest instances are in fact concentrated at a second, lower, transition point. Near this point, most problems are quite easy, but there are also a few very hard cases. This region of exceptionally hard problems corresponds to the transition between polynomial and exponential scaling of the average search cost, whose location we also estimate theoretically. These behaviors also appear to arise in other constraint problems. This work also shows the limitations of simple measures of the cost distribution, such as mean or median, for identifying outlying cases. 1
Random Constraint Satisfaction: A More Accurate Picture
, 1997
"... Recently there has been a great amount of interest in Random Constraint Satisfaction Problems, both from an experimental and a theoretical point of view. Rather intruigingly, experimental results with various models for generating random CSP instances suggest a "thresholdlike" behaviour and some ..."
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Cited by 77 (7 self)
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Recently there has been a great amount of interest in Random Constraint Satisfaction Problems, both from an experimental and a theoretical point of view. Rather intruigingly, experimental results with various models for generating random CSP instances suggest a "thresholdlike" behaviour and some theoretical work has been done in analyzing these models when the number of variables is asymptotic. In this paper we show that the models commonly used for generating random CSP instances suffer from a wrong parameterization which makes them unsuitable for asymptotic analysis. In particular, when the number of variables becomes large almost all instances they generate are, trivially, overconstrained. We then present a new model that is suitable for asymptotic analysis and, in the spirit of random SAT, we derive lower and upper bounds for its parameters so that the instances generated are "almost surely" over and underconstrained, respectively. Finally, we apply the technique introduced in [19], to one of the popular models in Artificial Intelligence and derive sharper estimates for the probability of being overconstrained as a function of the number of variables. 1
An Empirical Study of Dynamic Variable Ordering Heuristics for the Constraint Satisfaction Problem
 In Proceedings of CP96
, 1996
"... . The constraint satisfaction community has developed a number of heuristics for variable ordering during backtracking search. For example, in conjunction with algorithms which check forwards, the FailFirst (FF) and Brelaz (Bz) heuristics are cheap to evaluate and are generally considered to be ver ..."
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Cited by 70 (15 self)
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. The constraint satisfaction community has developed a number of heuristics for variable ordering during backtracking search. For example, in conjunction with algorithms which check forwards, the FailFirst (FF) and Brelaz (Bz) heuristics are cheap to evaluate and are generally considered to be very effective. Recent work to understand phase transitions in NPcomplete problem classes enables us to compare such heuristics over a large range of different kinds of problems. Furthermore, we are now able to start to understand the reasons for the success, and therefore also the failure, of heuristics, and to introduce new heuristics which achieve the successes and avoid the failures. In this paper, we present a comparison of the Bz and FF heuristics in forward checking algorithms applied to randomlygenerated binary CSP's. We also introduce new and very general heuristics and present an extensive study of these. These new heuristics are usually as good as or better than Bz and FF, and we id...
Random constraint satisfaction: Flaws and structure
 Constraints
, 2001
"... 4, and Toby Walsh 5 ..."
Local Search and the Number of Solutions
, 1996
"... . There has been considerable research interest into the solubility phase transition, and its effect on search cost for backtracking algorithms. In this paper we show that a similar easyhardeasy pattern occurs for local search, with search cost peaking at the phase transition. This is despite prob ..."
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Cited by 44 (6 self)
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. There has been considerable research interest into the solubility phase transition, and its effect on search cost for backtracking algorithms. In this paper we show that a similar easyhardeasy pattern occurs for local search, with search cost peaking at the phase transition. This is despite problems beyond the phase transition having fewer solutions, which intuitively should make the problems harder to solve. We examine the relationship between search cost and number of solutions at different points across the phase transition, for three different local search procedures, across two problem classes (CSP and SAT). Our findings show that there is a significant correlation, which changes as we move through the phase transition. Keywords: computational complexity, constraint satisfaction, propositional satisfiability, search 1 Introduction Local search has been proposed as a good candidate for solving the "hard" but soluble problems that turn up at the phase transition in solubility f...
Sparse Constraint Graphs and Exceptionally Hard Problems
 In Proceedings of IJCAI95
, 1994
"... Many types of problem exhibit a phase transition as a problem parameter is varied, from a region where most problems are easy and soluble to a region where most problems are easy but insoluble. In the intervening phase transition region, the median problem difficulty is greatest. However, occasional ..."
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Cited by 43 (7 self)
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Many types of problem exhibit a phase transition as a problem parameter is varied, from a region where most problems are easy and soluble to a region where most problems are easy but insoluble. In the intervening phase transition region, the median problem difficulty is greatest. However, occasional exceptionally hard problems (ehps) can be found in the easy and soluble region: these problems can be much harder than any problem occurring in the phase transition. We show that in binary constraint satisfaction problems ehps are much more likely to occur when the constraints are sparse than in dense problems. In ehps, the search algorithm encounters a large insoluble subproblem at an early stage; the exceptional difficulty is due to the cost of searching the subproblem to prove insolubility. This cost can be dramatically reduced by using conflictdirected backjumping (CBJ) rather than a chronological backtracker. However, when used with forward checking and the failfirst heuristic, it is...