# A* variants

These are some quick notes listing papers related to A* itself and variants. In particular, here I’m interested in papers that update $$h$$ during the A* search, as a background for pruning.

Specifically, our version of pruning increases $$h$$ during a single A* search, and in fact the heuristic becomes in-admissible after pruning.

## Changing $$h$$

The original A* paper has a proof of optimality. Later papers consider this also with heuristics that change their value over time.

• Original A* paper (Hart, Nilsson, and Raphael 1968) does not consider a changing heuristic.

• A later addendum (NO_ITEM_DATA:astar-correction-hart72) removes the need for the heuristic to be consistent in the optimality proof, but does not otherwise change things.
• Gelperin (1977) considers that $$h$$ may depend on the A* state. Notation: $$\hat h(n, m)$$: the value of $$h$$ in $$n$$ just before closing (expanding) $$m$$, and $$\hat h(n, \overline m)$$, the value of $$h$$ in $$n$$ just after closing $$m$$. State: $$\Sigma(m)$$ resp. $$\Sigma(\overline m)$$. Second argument may be omitted:

When is it neither necessary nor helpful to use this new notation, we will use the older notation with search-state dependence understood.

• Dechter and Pearl (1983) comment on and extend the proof of (Gelperin 1977), but are not specific about $$h$$ depending on the state.

• Somewhat unrelated, a nice paper going over some tricky details regarding A* is Holte (2010).

• Multiple-path pruning is the technique from (Poole and Mackworth 2017) to remove paths going through expanded nodes to which an optimal path has been found.

## Variants

There are some variants of A* for repeated searches that do incremental updates of $$h$$ between iterations. Note that $$h$$ is assumed to be admissible, and usually also consistent. Incremental A* refers to the entire class of versions of A* that reuse information between runs.

D* (Dynamic A*) (Stentz 1997, 1995)
Setting: a robot is navigating and discovers new obstacles along the way. This leads to increasing (or possibly decreasing) edge weights. They keep OPEN, RAISE, and LOWER lists. $$h$$ is assumed to the distance to the end in the so-far explored graph.
Adaptive A* (Koenig and Likhachev 2005)
Setting: repeatedly find shortest path to a fixed set of goal states, but varying start states. Input: a consistent heuristic $$h$$. (I’m not sure where/why consistency is needed.)

Intuitively, it uses that after making a search from $$s$$, we know that all states close to $$s$$ must have a distance that is not much smaller than the distance from $$s$$.

The main insight of Adaptive A* is this: after running one iteration from $$s$$ to $$t$$, let the distance from $$s$$ to $$t$$ be $$h^*(s)$$, and let $$g(u)$$ be the shortest distance from $$s$$ to $$u$$ found so far. Write $$g^*$$ for the distance from $$s$$, $$h^*$$ for the distance to $$t$$, and $$f^*$$ for their sum. By the triangle inequality, $$h^*(s) \leq f^*(u)$$. We get

\begin{equation} h^*(s) \leq f^*(u) = g^*(u) + h^*(u) \leq g(u) + h^*(u). \end{equation}

Rewriting gives $$h^*(u) \geq h^*(s) - g(u)$$, which we can use as a new value for $$h$$ that is possibly better than the user provided value.

Edge weights may increase over time.

Real-Time Adaptive A* (RTAA*) (Koenig and Likhachev 2006)
Same setting as Adaptive A*, but now the model is a robot searching the grid. There is a limit on the lookahead and movements it may make.

After increasing edge weights, they show that the heuristic remains consistent.

Generalized Adaptive A* (GAA*) (Sun, Koenig, and Yeoh 2008)
Can additionally handle decrements in edge weights and changes of goal state. Input: a consistent heuristic $$H(s, t)$$ for any pair of states, that additionally satisfies the more general triangle inequality.
D* Lite (Koenig and Likhachev 2002)
Again models a robot moving around.

## Conclusion

While there are many methods that (implicitly) modify $$h$$, their setting is usually in that of changing surroundings, repeated searches, or constrained to a single moving robot. All these are different from our case, where we are able to increase $$h$$ during a single search for a single shortest path. Further, most variants keep a more complicated state to handle the updates than that of a single A*.

Dechter, Rina, and Judea Pearl. 1983. “The Optimality of a* Revisited.” In Aaai, 83:95–99.
Gelperin, David. 1977. “On the Optimality of a∗.” Artificial Intelligence 8 (1): 69–76. https://doi.org/10.1016/0004-3702(77)90005-4.
Hart, Peter, Nils Nilsson, and Bertram Raphael. 1968. “A Formal Basis for the Heuristic Determination of Minimum Cost Paths.” Ieee Transactions on Systems Science and Cybernetics 4 (2): 100–107. https://doi.org/10.1109/tssc.1968.300136.
Holte, Robert C. 2010. “Common Misconceptions Concerning Heuristic Search.” In Proceedings of the Third Annual Symposium on Combinatorial Search, SOCS 2010, Stone Mountain, Atlanta, Georgia, Usa, July 8-10, 2010, edited by Ariel Felner and Nathan R. Sturtevant. AAAI Press. http://aaai.org/ocs/index.php/SOCS/SOCS10/paper/view/2073.
Koenig, Sven, and Maxim Likhachev. 2002. “D*Lite.” In Eighteenth National Conference on Artificial Intelligence, 476–83. Edmonton, Alberta, Canada: American Association for Artificial Intelligence.
———. 2005. “Adaptive a.” Proceedings of the Fourth International Joint Conference on Autonomous Agents and Multiagent Systems - Aamas ’05. https://doi.org/10.1145/1082473.1082748.
———. 2006. “Real-Time Adaptive a*.” Proceedings of the Fifth International Joint Conference on Autonomous Agents and Multiagent Systems - Aamas ’06. https://doi.org/10.1145/1160633.1160682.
Poole, David L., and Alan K. Mackworth. 2017. “Artificial Intelligence,” September. https://doi.org/10.1017/9781108164085.
Stentz, Anthony. 1995. “The Focussed D* Algorithm for Real-Time Replanning.” In Proceedings of the 14th International Joint Conference on Artificial Intelligence - Volume 2, 1652–59. Ijcai’95. Montreal, Quebec, Canada: Morgan Kaufmann Publishers Inc.
———. 1997. “Optimal and Efficient Path Planning for Partially Known Environments.” Intelligent Unmanned Ground Vehicles, 203–20. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4615-6325-9_11.
Sun, Xiaoxun, Sven Koenig, and William Yeoh. 2008. “Generalized Adaptive a*.” In Proceedings of the 7th International Joint Conference on Autonomous Agents and Multiagent Systems - Volume 1, 469–76. Aamas ’08. Estoril, Portugal: International Foundation for Autonomous Agents and Multiagent Systems.
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