Problem Solving vs. Planning
A simple planning agent is very similar to problem-solving agents in that it constructs
plans that achieve its goals, and then executes them. The limitations of the problem-
solving approach motivates the design of planning systems.
To solve a planning problem using a state-space search approach we would let the:
• initial state = initial situation
• goal-test predicate = goal state description
• successor function computed from the set of operators
• once a goal is found, solution plan is the sequence of operators in the path from
the start node to the goal node In searches, operators are used simply to generate successor states and we
can not look "inside" an operator to see how it’s defined. The goal-test predicate also is used as a
"black box" to test if a state is a goal or not. The search cannot use properties of how a
goal is defined in order to reason about finding path to that goal.
Hence this approach is all algorithm and representation weak.
Planning is considered different from problem solving because of the difference in the
way they represent states, goals, actions, and the differences in the way they construct
action sequences. Remember the search-based problem solver had four basic elements:
• Representations of actions: programs that develop successor state descriptions which
• Representation of state: every state description is complete. This is because a
complete description of the initial state is given, and actions are represented by a program
that creates complete state descriptions.
• Representation of goals: a problem solving agent has only information about it's
goal, which is in terms of a goal test and the heuristic function.
• Representation of plans: in problem solving, the solution is a sequence of actions.
In a simple problem:
"Get a quart of milk and a bunch of bananas and a variable speed
cordless drill" for a problem solving exercise we need to specify:
Initial State: the agent is at home without any objects that he is wanting.
Operator Set: everything the agent can do.
Heuristic function: the # of things that have not yet been acquired.
Problems with Problem solving agent: It is evident from the above figure that the actual branching factor
would be in the thousands or millions. The heuristic evaluation function can only choose states to
determine which one is closer to the goal. It cannot eliminate actions from
consideration. The agent makes guesses by considering actions and the evaluation
function ranks those guesses. The agent picks the best guess, but then has no idea
what to try next and therefore starts guessing again. It considers sequences of actions beginning from the
initial state. The agent is
forced to decide what to do in the initial state first, where possible choices are to
go to any of the next places. Until the agent decides how to acquire the objects, it
can't decide where to go.Planning emphasizes what is in operator and goal representations. There are three
key ideas behind planning:to "open up" the representations
of state, goals, and operators so that a reasoner
can more intelligently select actions when they are needed
the planner is free to add actions to the plan
wherever they are needed, rather
than in an incremental sequence starting at the initial state
most parts of the world are independent of most other parts
which makes it feasible to take a conjunctive goal and solve it with a divide-and-conquer strategy