Conflict-directed search algorithms have formed the core of practical, model-based reasoning systems for the last three decades. At the core of many of these applications is a series of discrete constraint optimization problems and a conflict-directed search algorithm, which uses conflicts in the forward search step to focus search away from known infeasibilities and towards the optimal feasible solution. In the arena of model-based autonomy, deep space probes have given way to more agile vehicles, such as coordinated vehicle control, which must robustly control their continuous dynamics. Controlling these systems requires optimizing over continuous, as well as discrete variables, using linear as well as logical constraints.
This paper explores the development of algorithms for solving hybrid discrete/linear optimization problems that use conflicts in the forward search direction, carried from the conflict-directed search algorithm in model-based reasoning. We introduce a novel algorithm called Generalized Conflict-Directed Branch and Bound (GCD-BB). GCD-BB extends traditional Branch and Bound (B&B), by first constructing conflicts from nodes of the search tree that are found to be infeasible or sub-optimal, and then by using these conflicts to guide the forward search away from known infeasible and sub-optimal states. Evaluated empirically on a range of test problems of coordinated air vehicle control, GCD-BB demonstrates a substantial improvement in performance compared to a traditional B&B algorithm applied to either disjunctive linear programs or an equivalent binary integer programming encoding.