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379
An OpenEnded Finite Domain Constraint Solver
, 1997
"... We describe the design and implementation of a finite domain constraint solver embedded in a Prolog system using an extended unification mechanism via attributed variables as a generic constraint interface. The solver is essentially a scheduler for indexicals, i.e. reactive functional rules encodin ..."
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Cited by 194 (8 self)
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We describe the design and implementation of a finite domain constraint solver embedded in a Prolog system using an extended unification mechanism via attributed variables as a generic constraint interface. The solver is essentially a scheduler for indexicals, i.e. reactive functional rules encoding local consistency methods performing incremental constraint solving or entailment checking, and global constraints, i.e. general propagators which may use specialized algorithms to achieve a higher degree of consistency or better time and space complexity. The solver has an openended design: the user can introduce new constraints, either in terms of indexicals by writing rules in a functional notation, or as global constraints via a Prolog programming interface. Constraints defined in terms of indexicals can be linked to 0/1variables modeling entailment; thus indexicals are used for constraint solving as well as for entailment testing. Constraints can be arbitrarily combined using the ...
HeavyTailed Phenomena in Satisfiability and Constraint Satisfaction Problems
 J. of Autom. Reasoning
, 2000
"... Abstract. We study the runtime distributions of backtrack procedures for propositional satisfiability and constraint satisfaction. Such procedures often exhibit a large variability in performance. Our study reveals some intriguing properties of such distributions: They are often characterized by ver ..."
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Cited by 165 (27 self)
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Abstract. We study the runtime distributions of backtrack procedures for propositional satisfiability and constraint satisfaction. Such procedures often exhibit a large variability in performance. Our study reveals some intriguing properties of such distributions: They are often characterized by very long tails or “heavy tails”. We will show that these distributions are best characterized by a general class of distributions that can have infinite moments (i.e., an infinite mean, variance, etc.). Such nonstandard distributions have recently been observed in areas as diverse as economics, statistical physics, and geophysics. They are closely related to fractal phenomena, whose study was introduced by Mandelbrot. We also show how random restarts can effectively eliminate heavytailed behavior. Furthermore, for harder problem instances, we observe long tails on the lefthand side of the distribution, which is indicative of a nonnegligible fraction of relatively short, successful runs. A rapid restart strategy eliminates heavytailed behavior and takes advantage of short runs, significantly reducing expected solution time. We demonstrate speedups of up to two orders of magnitude on SAT and CSP encodings of hard problems in planning, scheduling, and circuit synthesis. Key words: satisfiability, constraint satisfaction, heavy tails, backtracking 1.
Arc Consistency for General Constraint Networks: Preliminary Results
, 1997
"... Constraint networks are used more and more to solve combinatorial problems in reallife applications. Much activity is concentrated on improving the efficiency of finding a solution in a constraint network (the constraint satisfaction problem, CSP). Particularly, arc consistency caught many research ..."
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Cited by 135 (14 self)
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Constraint networks are used more and more to solve combinatorial problems in reallife applications. Much activity is concentrated on improving the efficiency of finding a solution in a constraint network (the constraint satisfaction problem, CSP). Particularly, arc consistency caught many researchers' attention, involving the discovery of a large number of algorithms. And, for the last two years, it has been shown that maintaining arc consistency during search is a worthwhile approach. However, results on CSPs and on arc consistency are almost always limited to binary constraint networks. The CSP is no longer an academic problem, and it is time to deal with nonbinary CSPs, as widely required in real world constraint solvers. This paper proposes a general schema to implement arc consistency on constraints of any arity when no specific algorithm is known. A first instantiation of the schema is presented here, which deals with constraints given by a predicate, by the set of forbidden c...
Minion: A fast scalable constraint solver
 In: Proceedings of ECAI 2006, Riva del Garda
, 2006
"... Abstract. We present Minion, a new constraint solver. Empirical results on standard benchmarks show orders of magnitude performance gains over stateoftheart constraint toolkits. These gains increase with problem size – Minion delivers scalable constraint solving. Minion is a generalpurpose const ..."
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Cited by 114 (38 self)
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Abstract. We present Minion, a new constraint solver. Empirical results on standard benchmarks show orders of magnitude performance gains over stateoftheart constraint toolkits. These gains increase with problem size – Minion delivers scalable constraint solving. Minion is a generalpurpose constraint solver, with an expressive input language based on the common constraint modelling device of matrix models. Focussing on matrix models supports a highlyoptimised implementation, exploiting the properties of modern processors. This contrasts with current constraint toolkits, which, in order to provide ever more modelling and solving options, have become progressively more complex at the cost of both performance and usability. Minion is a black box from the user point of view, deliberately providing few options. This, combined with its raw speed, makes Minion a substantial step towards Puget’s ‘Model and Run ’ constraint solving paradigm. 1
Generating satisfiable problem instances
 In AAAI/IAAI
, 2000
"... A major difficulty in evaluating incomplete local search style algorithms for constraint satisfaction problems is the need for a source of hard problem instances that are guaranteed to be satisfiable. A standard approach to evaluate incomplete search methods has been to use a general problem generat ..."
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Cited by 92 (11 self)
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A major difficulty in evaluating incomplete local search style algorithms for constraint satisfaction problems is the need for a source of hard problem instances that are guaranteed to be satisfiable. A standard approach to evaluate incomplete search methods has been to use a general problem generator and a complete search method to filter out the unsatisfiable instances. Unfortunately, this approach cannot be used to create problem instances that are beyond the reach of complete search methods. So far, it has proven to be surprisingly difficult to develop a direct generator for satisfiable instances only. In this paper, we propose a generator that only outputs satisfiable problem instances. We also show how one can finely control the hardness of the satisfiable instances by establishing a connection between problem hardness and a new kind of phase transition phenomenon in the space of problem instances. Finally, we use our problem distribution to show the easyhardeasy pattern in search complexity for local search procedures, analogous to the previously reported pattern for complete search methods.
QuickXPlain: Conflict Detection for Arbitrary Constraint Propagation Algorithms
, 2001
"... Existing conflict detection methods for CSP's such as [de Kleer, 1989; Ginsberg, 1993] cannot make use of powerful propagation which makes them unusable for complex realworld problems. On the other hand, powerful constraint propagation methods lack the ability to extract dependencies or confli ..."
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Cited by 84 (0 self)
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Existing conflict detection methods for CSP's such as [de Kleer, 1989; Ginsberg, 1993] cannot make use of powerful propagation which makes them unusable for complex realworld problems. On the other hand, powerful constraint propagation methods lack the ability to extract dependencies or conflicts, which makes them unusable for many advanced AI reasoning methods that require conflicts, as well as for interactive applications that require explanations. In this paper, we present a nonintrusive conflict detection algorithm called QUICKXPLAIN that tackles those problems. It can be applied to any propagation or inference algorithm as powerful as it may be. Our algorithm improves the efficiency of direct nonintrusive conflict detectors by recursively partitioning the problem into subproblems of half the size and by immediately skipping those subproblems that do not contain an element of the conflict. QUICKXPLAIN is used as explanation component of an advanced industrial constraintbased configuration tool.
Dependency parsing by belief propagation
 In Proceedings of EMNLP
, 2008
"... We formulate dependency parsing as a graphical model with the novel ingredient of global constraints. We show how to apply loopy belief propagation (BP), a simple and effective tool for approximate learning and inference. As a parsing algorithm, BP is both asymptotically and empirically efficient. E ..."
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Cited by 84 (9 self)
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We formulate dependency parsing as a graphical model with the novel ingredient of global constraints. We show how to apply loopy belief propagation (BP), a simple and effective tool for approximate learning and inference. As a parsing algorithm, BP is both asymptotically and empirically efficient. Even with secondorder features or latent variables, which would make exact parsing considerably slower or NPhard, BP needs only O(n3) time with a small constant factor. Furthermore, such features significantly improve parse accuracy over exact firstorder methods. Incorporating additional features would increase the runtime additively rather than multiplicatively. 1
The Complexity of Global Constraints
, 2004
"... We study the computational complexity of reasoning with global constraints. We show that reasoning with such constraints is intractable in general. We then demonstrate how the same tools of computational complexity can be used in the design and analysis of specific global constraints. In particular, ..."
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Cited by 82 (23 self)
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We study the computational complexity of reasoning with global constraints. We show that reasoning with such constraints is intractable in general. We then demonstrate how the same tools of computational complexity can be used in the design and analysis of specific global constraints. In particular, we illustrate how computational complexity can be used to determine when a lesser level of local consistency should be enforced, when decomposing constraints will lose pruning, and when combining constraints is tractable. We also show how the same tools can be used to study symmetry breaking, metaconstraints like the cardinality constraint, and learning nogoods.
Constraint propagation
 Handbook of Constraint Programming
, 2006
"... Constraint propagation is a form of inference, not search, and as such is more ”satisfying”, both technically and aesthetically. —E.C. Freuder, 2005. Constraint reasoning involves various types of techniques to tackle the inherent ..."
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Cited by 76 (5 self)
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Constraint propagation is a form of inference, not search, and as such is more ”satisfying”, both technically and aesthetically. —E.C. Freuder, 2005. Constraint reasoning involves various types of techniques to tackle the inherent
Efficient constraint propagation engines
 Transactions on Programming Languages and Systems
"... This paper presents a model and implementation techniques for speeding up constraint propagation. Three fundamental approaches to improving constraint propagation based on propagators as implementations of constraints are explored: keeping track of which propagators are at fixpoint, choosing which p ..."
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Cited by 62 (9 self)
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This paper presents a model and implementation techniques for speeding up constraint propagation. Three fundamental approaches to improving constraint propagation based on propagators as implementations of constraints are explored: keeping track of which propagators are at fixpoint, choosing which propagator to apply next, and how to combine several propagators for the same constraint. We show how idempotence reasoning and events help track fixpoints more accurately. We improve these methods by using them dynamically (taking into account current domains to improve accuracy). We define prioritybased approaches to choosing a next propagator and show that dynamic priorities can improve propagation. We illustrate that the use of multiple propagators for the same constraint can be advantageous with priorities, and introduce staged propagators that combine the effects of multiple propagators with priorities for greater efficiency. 1