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Journal Articles Applied Intelligence Year : 1996

Possibility theory in constraint satisfaction problems: Handling priority, preference and uncertainty

Abstract

In classical Constraint Satisfaction Problems (CSPs) knowledge is embedded in a set of hard constraints, each one restricting the possible values of a set of variables. However constraints in real world problems are seldom hard, and CSP's are often idealizations that do not account for the preference among feasible solutions. Moreover some constraints may have priority over others. Lastly, constraints may involve uncertain parameters. This paper advocates the use of fuzzy sets and possibility theory as a realistic approach for the representation of these three aspects. Fuzzy constraints encompass both preference relations among possible instantiations and priorities among constraints. In a Fuzzy Constraint Satisfaction Problem (FCSP), a constraint is satisfied to a degree (rather than satisfied or not satisfied) and the acceptability of a potential solution becomes a gradual notion. Even if the FCSP is partially inconsistent, best instantiations are provided owing to the relaxation of some constraints. Fuzzy constraints are thus flexible. CSP notions of consistency and k-consistency can be extended to this framework and the classical algorithms used in CSP resolution (e.g., tree search and filtering) can be adapted without losing much of their efficiency. Most classical theoretical results remain applicable to FCSPs. In the paper, various types of constraints are modelled in the same framework. The handling of uncertain parameters is carried out in the same setting because possibility theory can account for both preference and uncertainty. The presence of uncertain parameters leads to ill-defined CSPs, where the set of constraints which defines the problem is not precisely known.
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hal-04039814 , version 1 (22-03-2023)

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Didier Dubois, Henri Prade. Possibility theory in constraint satisfaction problems: Handling priority, preference and uncertainty. Applied Intelligence, 1996, 6 (4), pp.287--309. ⟨10.1007/BF00132735⟩. ⟨hal-04039814⟩
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