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Macro-Operators: A Weak Method for Learning

Korf, Richard E.

This article explores the idea of learning efficient strategies for solving problems by searching for macro-operators. A macro-operator, or macro for short, is simply a sequence of operators chosen from the primitive operators of a problem. The technique is particularly useful for problems with non-serializable subgoals, such as Rubik's Cube, for which other weak methods fail. Both a problem-solving program and a learning program are described in detail. The performance of these programs is analyzed in terms of the number of macros required to solve all problem instances, the length of the resulting solutions (expressed as the number of primitive moves), and the amount of time necessary to learn the macros. In addition, a theory of why the method works, and a characterization of the range of problems for which it is useful are presented. The theory introduces a new type of problem structure called operator decomposability. Finally, it is concluded that the macro technique is a new kind of weak method, a method for learning as opposed to problem solving.

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Academic Units
Computer Science
Publisher
Department of Computer Science, Columbia University
Series
Columbia University Computer Science Technical Reports, CUCS-156-85
Published Here
October 31, 2011
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