The Journal of Real-Time Systems, 2, 7-24 (1990)9 1990 Kluwer Academic Publishers. Manufactured in The Netherlands.
Depth-Limited Search for Real-Time Problem Solving
RICHARD E. KORF*
Computer Science Department, University of California, Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA 90024
Abstract. We propose depth-limited heuristic search as a general paradigm for real-time problem solving in adynamic environment. When combined with iterative-deepening, t provides the ability to commit to an actionalmost instantaneously, but allows the quality of that decision to improve as long as time is available. Once adeadline is reached, the best decision arrived at is executed. We illustrate the paradigm in three different settings,corresponding to single-agent search, two-playergames, and multi-agent problem solving. First we review two-player minimax search with alpha-beta pruning. Minimax can be extended to the maxn algorithm for more thantwo players,which admitsa much weakerform of alpha-betapruning. Finally,we explore real-time earch algorithms
for single-agentproblems.Minimax s specialized o
which allowsa very powerful
allows backtrackingwhile still guaranteeinga solutionand making ocallyoptimaldecisions.
1.1. Search in AI
Search has a long and distinguished history in Artificial Intelligence. The earliest AI pro-grams, such as the Logic Theorist of Newell, Simon and Shaw (1963), and Samuel's checkersplayer (1963), were heuristic search programs. The reason behind this is that higher levelproblem solving, such as theorem proving and game playing, was the first aspect of in-telligence to receive the attention of AI researchers.A classical example of a problem-solving task is the Travelling Salesperson Problem (TSP).The problem is to plan a trip among a set of cities so that every city is visited exactlyonce, and ending at the starting city. An optimal solution to this problem accomplishesthe task in the minimum total distance possible. All known solutions to this problem amountto some sort of systematic trial-and-error exploration of different city sequences, searchingfor one of minimum distance.In general, AI deals with problems that are sufficiently complex that the correct nextstep to be taken in their solution cannot be determined a priori. As a result, some typeof search algorithm is employed to find a solution.While search is a very general problem-solving technique, its efficiency limits its prac-tical application. For example, the simplest algorithm for TSP would be to enumerate all*This research was supported by an NSF Presidential Young Investigator Award, NSF Grant IRI-8801939, andan equipment grant from Hewlett-Packard. Thanks to Valerie Aylett for drawing the figures.