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Publications & Technical Reports

Searching For M Best Solutions In Graphical Models
Natalia Flerova, Radu Marinescu and Rina Dechter

The paper focuses on finding the m best solutions to combinatorial optimization problems using best-first or depth-first branch and bound search. Specifically, we present a new algorithm m- A*, extending the well-known A* to the m-best task, and for the first time prove that all its desirable properties, including soundness, completeness and optimal efficiency, are maintained. Since best-first algorithms require extensive memory, we also extend the memory-efficient depth-first branch and bound to the m-best task.

We adapt both algorithms to optimization tasks over graphical models (e.g., Weighted CSP and MPE in Bayesian networks), provide complexity analysis and an empirical evaluation. Our experiments confirm theory that the best-first approach is largely superior when memory is available, but depth-first branch and bound is more robust. We also show that our algorithms are competitive with related schemes recently developed for the m-best task.