Admissible heuristics are critical for effective domain-independent planning when optimal solutions must be guaranteed. Two useful heuristics are the hm heuristics, which generalize the reachability heuristic underlying the planning graph, and pattern database heuristics. These heuristics, however, have serious limitations: reachability heuristics capture only the cost of critical paths in a relaxed problem, ignoring the cost of other relevant paths, while PDB heuristics, additive or not, cannot accommodate too many variables in patterns, and methods for automatically selecting patterns that produce good estimates are not known.
We introduce two refinements of these heuristics: First, the additive hm heuristic which yields an admissible sum of hm heuristics using a partitioning of the set of actions. Second, the constrained PDB heuristic which uses constraints from the original problem to strengthen the lower bounds obtained from abstractions.
The new heuristics depend on the way the actions or problem variables are partitioned. We advance methods for automatically deriving additive hm and PDB heuristics from STRIPS encodings. Evaluation shows improvement over existing heuristics in several domains, although, not surprisingly, no heuristic dominates all the others over all domains.