ANU Researchers Sweep Conference Awards in London

Friday 17 June 2016

Researchers from the ANU College of Engineering and Computer Science have recently won both the Outstanding Paper and Outstanding Student Paper awards at a top international conference in London. The team was awarded at the 26th International Conference on Automated Planning and Scheduling (ICAPS), the premier forum for exchanging research results on theory and applications of intelligent planning and scheduling technology.

Adjunct Research Fellow Felipe Trevizan (Data61), Professor Sylvie Thiebaux a researcher at the ANU Research School of Computer Science and their MIT collaborators Prof. Brian Williams and PhD student Pedro Santana, were the team that won Outstanding Paper for their research on Heuristic Search in Dual Space for Constrained Stochastic Shortest Path Problems. This work, which is supported by the Air Force Office of Scientific Research, investigates how agents acting in uncertain and dynamic environments can achieve their goals at least cost, whilst keeping failure risk and expected quality of service within acceptable thresholds.

The paper describes a world-first efficient algorithm to solve these problems, which need only explore a fraction of the huge state space of the system. This type of problems is found everywhere but was in particular motivated by robot autonomy in situations ranging from planetary rover to unmanned vehicle search and rescue missions.

Dr. Patrik Haslum, researcher at the ANU Research School of Computer Science, and his collaborators Dr Ingo Weber (Data61/UNSW), PhD student and first author Jeannette Daum, Dr. Alvaro Tolba and Prof. Joerg Hoffmann (University of Saarbruecken) are the team that won the Outstanding Student Paper for their work on Practical Undoability Checking via Contingent Planning.

This paper studies the question of whether an action - for instance, calling a specific API operation - can be undone, and how. This was motivated by the need of increasing dependability in cloud computing: if the operation may take your system to a state you can never recover from, you want to know that in advance. The team's research allows existing planning systems to model and solve this problem of undoing a complex decision, providing stable, optimized tools to perform undoability checking.

Professor Thiebaux says that the fact that ANU has won both awards represents a rare and outstanding achievement, and confirms the role ANU plays in this vital research area. 

“ANU remains at the forefront of research in automated planning and scheduling and these awards only confirms what we already know, the work done by ANU and Australian and overseas collaborators on Planning and Scheduling continues to lead the field and opens up new and exciting avenues for further research into technology that is going to play an important role in society”.

The ICAPS conference is running at King’s College London until 17 June 2016.

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