The course consists of oral lectures accompanied by programming exercises. Successful participation in the course yields 9 ECTS.

The course has two weekly slots of 90 minutes each, Tuesdays 14:15 -- 15:45, and Wednesdays 10:15 -- 11:45. Some slots are used for tutorials on paper exercises (see calendar below). The programming exercises will be supported with an introductory programming workshop and weekly office hours. All teaching will be done in English.

All teaching will be accessible from our central Gather space:

The Gather space serves for the following functionalities:

  1. Lectures, tutorials, and introductory programming workshop wil be in the "Lecture Hall" in the Gather space. Entering that space and pressing 'x' will transfer you to zoom.
  2. The weekly office hours will take place directly in the Gather space, so that students can form groups and tutors can "walk around between" these groups.
  3. The lecturers will be in Gather after the lectures, so you can walk up to them and ask any additional questions you might have.
  4. You may use this space as an online meeting space for students. The Gather space will be always open, and it provides ample space for individual meetings and discussions.

For direct access without going via Gather, here is the zoom link for lectures, tutorials, and introductory programming workshop:

We have decided to use zoom for lecturing as it provides superior functionality and usability, including seamless live interaction and smooth integration of a whiteboard. If you are concerned about privacy, we encourage you to enter the zoom meeting under a nickname or pseudonym, and use only the textual chat for communication. Furthermore, the lectures will be streamed live to YouTube, so you can choose to watch there instead (the YouTube link will be given in the zoom meeting at the start of the lecture).

The lectures will be given by Prof. Joerg Hoffmann and Daniel Hoeller, the tutorials will be given by Daniel HoellerRebecca Eifler, Dan Fiser, and Daniel Hoeller will tutor the programming exercises.

Exercises and ECTS. The course will be accompanied by two kinds of exercises, paper exercises and programming exercises. The programming exercises are split into two parts. For the first part, you have to solve two projects individually. For the remaining projects, you are allowed to form groups of up to three students. To qualify for the exam, you need to obtain 50% from the individual programming exercises as well as 50 points from the programming exercises overall. (If you want to participate in future editions of this course, then you need to qualify anew; see also below.)

The paper exercises will involve applying the introduced concepts and algorithms to examples, and leading simple proofs. The paper exercise sheets will be handed out roughly in a biweekly cycle, i.e., in 2-week intervals. While the paper exercises are not mandatory to pass the course, they feature exercises similar to those in the exam so we highly recommend you try to solve them before the corresponding tutorials.

The tutorial sessions will be classical tutorials discussing the solutions to paper exercises.

The programming exercises will involve implementing some of the techniques discussed, starting from a code base (essentially the Fast Downward planning system, FD, implemented in C++) we will provide. In other words, you will build your own planning system as part of the course! We'll run a competition among these systems at the end of term, and good performance in the programming can help you in getting a good exam grade (see below).

Furthermore, in the programming exercises, you will be given the choice of which techniques to implement: Instead of fixed programming tasks on regular sheets, you will obtain a list of programming options up front. Each "option" here is one technique from the course, along with: the number of points obtained by implementing that technique; the time point in the course at which the technique will be explained; the dependencies with other options; and the deadline for submitting your solution if you choose to implement the option.

To get you started on the FD code base, there will be an introductory programming workshop on Thursday November 12 at 14:15-15:15. After that, there will be an office hour offering help with the programming, every Thursday at 10:00.

A tip: To get started on the planning modeling language PDDL, a good idea may be to have a look at this archive with example files, or import some benchmarks in the editor.

Exam and final grade. There will be a written exam at the end of the course. The final grade will be determined based on the performance in that exam, and the performance in the exercises.

For admission to the exam, you need to get at least 50% from the individual programming exercises as well as 50 points from the programming exercises overall.

The final grade will be determined based on a combination of your performance in the programming exercises and exam. Precisely, let N be your number of points in the exam itself, and M be your number of points in the programming exercises. To pass the exam, N>=50 is required. Your grade will be determined from max(N, 0.5*N + 0.5*min(M,110)). In other words, your grade results from either your exam performance, or from a weighted sum over exam and programming exercises (the latter being reduced to 110 points in case you got more than 110 points in those exercises).

Depending on the outcome of the 1st exam, there may be a 2nd exam end of March/beginning of April. If so, then, in compliance with the study regulations each of the two exams will count as a separate attempt to pass the course. In particular, the grading rule for each exam (separately) will be as just explained.

ATTENTION! The re-exam is your only chance to improve your grade.

  • By the study regulations, if you do not pass this edition of the course (if you fail, or are absent, in both the exam and the re-exam), then you can participate in future editions of the course as additional attempts to pass the course. (In this case, you need to qualify anew for the exam of that edition of the course.)
  • If you do pass this edition of the course, then you cannot improve your grade anymore. The only exception to the latter is if you already pass the exam: in that case, you can try to improve your grade in the re-exam.

Course Material. Due to the recency of the material covered, there exists no text book for this course. There are two kinds of slides, pre-handouts and post-handouts. Pre-handouts do not contain the answers to questions asked during the lecture sessions, and do not contain the details for examples worked during the lecture sessions. The post-handouts do contain all this, and correct any bugs. The pre-handouts are made available one day before the lecture sessions on each chapter, the post-handouts are made available directly after the lecture sessions on a chapter are finished.

Course Overview. The following table provides the provisional timing for the course. ATTENTION: Items displayed in red and blue deviate from the regular lecture days/times. See also the calendar here.

Date Lecturer Chapter(s) / Tutorials Exercise Deadlines (IGNORE, NEED TO BE UPDATED)
Tue 03.11 Hoffmann About this course  
Wed 04.11 Hoffmann Planning Formalisms  
Tue 10.11 Hoeller PDDL; Applications  
Wed 11.11 Hoeller Causal Graphs; Progression and Regression  
Tue 17.11 Hoffmann Progression and Regression; Heuristic Search Paper Exercise Handout: Sheet 1
Wed 18.11 Hoffmann Heuristic Search; Critical Path Heuristics

Sun 22.11. Deadline: Paper Exercise Sheet 1

Thu 19.11. Deadline: Login + Fork of FD project

Sun 22.11. Deadline: Goal counting

Tue 24.11 Hoffmann Delete Relaxation Heuristics  
Wed 25.11 Hoeller Tutorial 1  
Tue 01.12 Hoffmann Delete Relaxation Heuristics Paper Exercise Handout: Sheet 2
Wed 02.12 Hoffmann Landmark Heuristics

Sun 6.12. Deadline: Paper Exercise Sheet 2

Sun 6.12. Deadline: h^max and h^add

Mon 7.12. Deadline: Project groups

Tue 08.12 Hoffmann Landmark Heuristics; Abstractions  
Wed 09.12 Hoeller Tutorial 2  
Tue 15.12 Hoffmann Abstractions; Pattern Database Heuristics  
Wed 16.12 Hoffmann Pattern Database Heuristics

Sun 20.12. Deadline: h^FF and h^2

    Christmas Break  
Tue 05.01 Hoffmann Partial-Order Reduction Paper Exercise Handout: Sheet 3
Wed 06.01 Hoeller Combining Heuristic Functions

Sun 10.1. Deadline: Paper Exercise Sheet 3

Sun 10.1. Deadline: EHC, h^LM, and h^PDB

Tue 12.01 Hoeller Combining Heuristic Functions; Comparing Heuristic Functions  
Wed 13.01 Hoeller Tutorial 3  
Tue 19.01 Hoeller Comparing Heuristic Functions

Paper Exercise Handout: Sheet 4

Wed 20.01 Hoffmann Seach Space Surface Analysis

Sun 24.1. Deadline: Paper Exercise Sheet 4

Sun 24.1. Deadline: POR, HA, and h^lm-cut

Tue 26.01 Hoffmann Seach Space Surface Analysis  
Wed 27.01 Hoffmann Tutorial 4

Thu 28.1. Deadline: Competition debugging

Sun 31.1. Deadline: Competition

Tue 02.02 Hoffmann Planning Systems and the IPC  
Wed 03.02 Hoeller Students' Planning Systems Competition  
Tue 12.02   Exam  
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