Lilotane: A Lifted SAT-based Approach to Hierarchical Planning

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Dominik Schreiber


One of the oldest and most popular approaches to automated planning is to encode the problem at hand into a propositional formula and use a Satisfiability (SAT) solver to find a solution. In all established SAT-based approaches for Hierarchical Task Network (HTN) planning, grounding the problem is necessary and oftentimes introduces a combinatorial blowup in terms of the number of actions and reductions to encode. Our contribution named Lilotane (Lifted Logic for Task Networks) eliminates this issue for Totally Ordered HTN planning by directly encoding the lifted representation of the problem at hand. We lazily instantiate the problem hierarchy layer by layer and use a novel SAT encoding which allows us to defer decisions regarding method arguments to the stage of SAT solving. We show the correctness of our encoding and compare it to the best performing prior SAT encoding in a worst-case analysis. Empirical evaluations confirm that Lilotane outperforms established SAT-based approaches, often by orders of magnitude, produces much smaller formulae on average, and compares favorably to other state-of-the-art HTN planners regarding robustness and plan quality. In the International Planning Competition (IPC) 2020, a preliminary version of Lilotane scored the second place. We expect these considerable improvements to SAT-based HTN planning to open up new perspectives for SAT-based approaches in related problem classes.

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