Producing Satisficing Solutions to Scheduling Problems: An Iterative Constraint Relaxation Approach

Steve Chien and Jonathan Gratch

One drawback to using constraint-propagntion in planning and scheduling systems is that when a problem has an unsatisfiable sets of constraints such algorithms typically only show that no solution exists. While, technically correct, in practical situations, it is desirable in these cases to produce a satisficing solution that satisfies the most important constraints (typically defined in terms of maximizing a utility function). This paper describes an iterative constraint relaxation approach in which the scheduler uses heuristics to progressively relax problem constraints until the problem becomes satisfiable. We present empirical results of applying these techniques to the problem of scheduling spacecraft communications for JPL/NASA antenna resources.

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