Best-First Enumeration Based on Bounding Conflicts, and its Application to Large-scale Hybrid Estimation

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Eric Michael Timmons
Brian Charles Williams


There is an increasing desire for autonomous systems to have high levels of robustness and safety, attained through continuously planning and self-repairing online. Underlying this is the need to accurately estimate the system state and diagnose subtle failures. Estimation methods based on hybrid discrete and continuous state models have emerged as a method of precisely computing these estimates. However, existing methods have difficulty scaling to systems with more than a handful of components. Discrete, consistency based state estimation capabilities can scale to this level by combining best-first enumeration and conflict-directed search. While best-first methods have been developed for hybrid estimation, conflict-directed methods have thus far been elusive as conflicts learn inconsistencies from constraint violation, but probabilistic hybrid estimation is relatively unconstrained. In this paper we present an approach to hybrid estimation that unifies best-first enumeration and conflict-directed search through the concept of "bounding" conflicts, an extension of conflicts that represent tighter bounds on the cost of regions of the search space. This paper presents a general best-first enumeration algorithm based on bounding conflicts (A*BC) and a hybrid estimation method using this enumeration algorithm. Experiments show that an A*BC powered state estimator produces estimates up to an order of magnitude faster than the current state of the art, particularly on large systems.

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