Problem specifications for classical planners based on a STRIPS-like representation typically consist of an initial situation and a partially defined goal state. Hierarchical planning approaches, e.g., Hierarchical Task Network (HTN) Planning, have not only richer representations for actions but also for the representation of planning problems. The latter are defined by giving an initial state and an initial task network in which the goals can be ordered with respect to each other. However, studies with a specification of the domain of process planning for the plan-space planner CAPlan (an extension of SNLP) have shown that even without hierarchical domain representation typical properties called goal orderings can be identified in this domain that allow more efficient and correct case retrieval strategies for the case-based planner CAPlan/CbC. Motivated by that, this report describes an extension of the classical problem specifications for plan-space planners like SNLP and descendants. These extended problem specifications allow to define a partial order on the planning goals which can interpreted as an order in which the solution plan should achieve the goals. These goal ordering can theoretically and empirically be shown to improve planning performance not only for case-based but also for generative planning. As a second but different way we show how goal orderings can be used to address the control problem of partial order planners. These improvements can be best understood with a refinement of Barrett's and Weld's extended taxonomy of subgoal collections.
Rules are an important knowledge representation formalism in constructive problem solving. On the other hand, object orientation is an essential key technology for maintaining large knowledge bases as well as software applications. Trying to take advantage of the benefits of both paradigms, we integrated Prolog and Smalltalk to build a common base architecture for problem solving. This approach has proven to be useful in the development of two knowledge-based systems for planning and configuration design (CAPlan and Idax). Both applications use Prolog as an efficient computational source for the evaluation of knowledge represented as rules.
Real world planning tasks like manufacturing process planning often don't allow to formalize all of the relevant knowledge. Especially, preferences between alternatives are hard to acquire but have high influence on the efficiency of the planning process and the quality of the solution. We describe the essential features of the CAPlan planning architecture that supports cooperative problem solving to narrow the gap caused by absent preference and control knowledge. The architecture combines an SNLP-like base planner with mechanisms for explict representation and maintenance of dependencies between planning decisions. The flexible control interface of CAPlan allows a combination of autonomous and interactive planning in which a user can participate in the problem solving process. Especially, the rejection of arbitrary decisions by a user or dependency-directed backtracking mechanisms are supported by CAPlan.