Most planning problems have strong structures. They can be decomposed into subdomains with causal dependencies. The idea of exploiting the domain decomposition has motivated previous work such as hierarchical planning and factored planing. However, these algorithms require extensive backtracking and lead to few efficient general-purpose planners. On the other hand, heuristic search has been a successful approach to automated planning. The domain decomposition of planning problems, unfortunately, is not directly and fully exploited by heuristic search. We propose a novel and general framework to exploit domain decomposition. Based on a structure analysis on the SAS+ planning formalism, we stratify the sub-domains of a planning problem into dependency layers. By recognizing the stratification of a planning structure, we propose a space reduction method that expands only a subset of executable actions at each state. This reduction method can be combined with state-space search, allowing us to simultaneously employ the strength of domain decomposition and high-quality heuristics. We prove that the reduction preserves completeness and optimality of search and experimentally verify its effectiveness in space reduction.
Yixin Chen, You Xu, Guohui Yao