Virtual Arc Consistency for Weighted CSP

Martin Cooper, Simon de Givry, Marti Sanchez, Thomas Schiex, Matthias Zytnicki

Optimizing a combination of local cost functions on discrete variables is a central problem in many formalisms such as in probabilistic networks, maximum satisfiability, weighted CSP or factor graphs. Recent results have shown that maintaining a form of local consistency in a Branch and Bound search provides bounds that are strong enough to solve many practical instances. In this paper, we introduce Virtual Arc Consistency (VAC) which iteratively identifies and applies sequences of cost propagation over rational costs that are guaranteed to transform a WCSP in another WCSP with an improved constant cost. Although not as strong as Optimal Soft Arc Consistency, VAC is faster and powerful enough to solve submodular problems. Maintaining VAC inside branch and bound leads to important improvements in efficiency on large difficult problems and allowed us to close two famous frequency assignment problem instances.

Subjects: 15.2 Constraint Satisfaction; 15.7 Search

Submitted: Apr 11, 2008

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