Constraint technology offers advantages over traditional Operations
Research methods to solve optimisation tasks. However, the CSP model
presents some limitations because all constraints are mandatory.
In real problems, constraints are often preferences, but if included
in the CSP model an over-constrasined problem is produced. Then,
the only option is to relax / remove some of the preference constraints
by hand, but it is difficult to assure teh solution quality and
this is not commercially satisfactory.
In the last years, several theoretical models as well as algorithms
have been developed to represent and solve CSP with preferences.
They have been produced in an academic context, but they are not
fully available to industry. This project aims to bridge the gap
between academic results and industrial needs. Specifically, the
goal of ECSPLAIN is to develop methods, techniques and generic software,
making it possible to address such problems in a systematic manner,
thus insuring quality solutions to complex, constrained optimisation
tasks. More specifically, the project focuses on the resolution
of over-constrained problems and of problems involving multiple
optimisation criteria and/or a wide variety of preference constraints.
The areas where ECSPLAIN will innovate are:
- Methodological support: to render development of applications
a relatively straightforward and controlled process via means and
methods for application developers for problem analysis, modelling
- Algorithmic approaches: producing better algorithms to make things
more efficient. These include combinations of existing techniques,
and advances in hierarchical constraint satisfaction, iterative
improvement methods, constraint propagation and interactive constraint
satisfaction. Integration into commercial libraries is essential.
- Interaction techniques: to support interaction by developers,
maintainers and end-users with the operational application in the
form of explanations, decision support and interfacing.