Efficient multiple constraint acquisition

Abstract

Constraint acquisition systems such as QuAcq and MultiAcq can assist non-expert users to model their problems as constraint networks by classifying (partial) examples as positive or negative. For each negative example, the former focuses on one constraint of the target network, while the latter can learn a maximum number of constraints. Two bottlenecks of the acquisition process where both these algorithms encounter problems are the large number of queries required to reach convergence, and the high cpu times needed to generate queries, especially near convergence. In this paper we propose algorithmic and heuristic methods to deal with both these issues. We first describe an algorithm, called MQuAcq, that blends the main idea of MultiAcq into QuAcq resulting in a method that learns as many constraints as MultiAcq does after a negative example, but with a lower complexity. A detailed theoretical analysis of the proposed algorithm is also presented. Then we turn our attention to query generation which is a significant but rather overlooked part of the acquisition process. We describe how query generation in a typical constraint acquisition system operates, and we propose heuristics for improving its efficiency. Experiments from various domains demonstrate that our resulting algorithm that integrates all the new techniques does not only generate considerably fewer queries than QuAcq and MultiAcq, but it is also by far faster than both of them, in average query generation time as well as in total run time, and also largely alleviates the premature convergence problem.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    Personal communication with the authors of the algorithms.

  2. 2.

    The ternary constraints derived when i = k or j = l in |xixj|≠|xkxl| were excluded from the target network

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Correspondence to Dimosthenis C. Tsouros.

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This paper is an extended version of paper [1] that appeared in the proceedings of CP-2018.

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Tsouros, D.C., Stergiou, K. Efficient multiple constraint acquisition. Constraints (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10601-020-09311-4

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Keywords

  • Constraint acquisition
  • Learning
  • Modeling