The constrainedness of search

  • Gent I
  • MacIntyre E
  • Prosser P
 et al. 
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We propose a definition of `constrainedness' that unifies two of the most common but informal uses of the term. These are that branching heuristics in search algorithms often try to make the most "constrained" choice, and that hard search problems tend to be "critically constrained". Our definition of constrainedness generalizes a number of parameters used to study phase transition behaviour in a wide variety of problem domains. As well as predicting the location of phase transitions in solubility, constrainedness provides insight into why problems at phase transitions tend to be hard to solve. Such problems are on a constrainedness "knife-edge", and we must search deep into the problem before they look more or less soluble. Heuristics that try to get off this knife-edge as quickly as possible by, for example, minimizing the constrainedness are often very effective. We show that heuristics from a wide variety of problem domains can be seen as minimizing the constrainedness (or proxies ...

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  • SCOPUS: 2-s2.0-0030349688
  • SGR: 0030349688
  • ISBN: 0-262-51091-X
  • PUI: 27782266


  • IP Gent

  • E MacIntyre

  • P Prosser

  • T Walsh

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