Task Scoping: Generating Task-Specific Simplifications of Open-Scope Planning Problems

Published: 09 Jun 2023, Last Modified: 24 Aug 2023PRLEveryoneRevisionsBibTeX
Keywords: pruning, backwards reachability analysis
TL;DR: We use a form of backwards reachability analysis to efficiently prune actions and states from large classical and numeric planning problems.
Abstract: A general-purpose agent must learn an open-scope world model: one rich enough to tackle any of the wide range of tasks it may be asked to solve over its operational lifetime. This stands in contrast with typical planning approaches, where the scope of a model is limited to a specific family of tasks that share significant structure. Unfortunately, planning to solve any specific task within an open-scope model is computationally intractable---even for state-of-the-art methods---due to the many states and actions that are necessarily present in the model but irrelevant to that problem. We propose task scoping: a method that exploits knowledge of the initial state, goal conditions, and transition system to automatically and efficiently remove provably irrelevant variables and actions from grounded planning problems. Our approach leverages causal link analysis and backwards reachability over state variables (rather than states) along with operator merging (when effects on relevant variables are identical). Using task scoping as a pre-planning step can shrink the search space by orders of magnitude and dramatically decrease planning time. We empirically demonstrate that these improvements occur across a variety of open-scope domains, including Minecraft, where our approach reduces search time by a factor of $75$ for a state-of-the-art numeric planner, even after including the time required for task scoping itself.
Submission Number: 14