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Publications & Technical Reports

AND/OR Branch-and-Bound Search for Combinatorial Optimization in Graphical Models

Radu Marinescu and Rina Dechter

We introduce a new generation of depth-first Branch-and-Bound algorithms that explore the AND/OR search tree using static and dynamic variable orderings for solving general constraint optimization problems. The virtue of the AND/OR representation of the search space is that its size may be far smaller than that of a traditional OR representation, which can translate into significant time savings for search algorithms. The focus of this paper is on linear space search which explores the AND/OR search tree rather than the search graph and therefore make no attempt to cache information. We investigate the power of the mini-bucket heuristics within the AND/OR search space, in both static and dynamic setups. We focus on two most common optimization problems in graphical models: finding the Most Probable Explanation (MPE) in Bayesian networks and solving Weighted CSPs (WCSP). In extensive empirical evaluations we demonstrate that the new AND/OR Branch-and-Bound approach improves considerably over the traditional OR search strategy and show how various variable ordering schemes impact the performance of the AND/OR search scheme.