Intelligent execution monitoring and error analysis in planning involving processes
An intelligent agent, operating in an external world which cannot be fully described in its internal world model, must be able to monitor the success of a previously generated plan and to respond to any errors which may have occurred. The process of error analysis requires the ability to reason in an expert fashion about time and about processes occurring in the world. Reasoning about time is needed to deal with causality. Reasoning about processes is needed since the direct effects of a plan action can be completely specified when the plan is generated, but the indirect effects cannot. For example, the action `open tap' leads with certainty to `tap open', whereas whether there will be a fluid flow and how long it might last is more difficult to predict. The majority of existing planning systems cannot handle these kinds of reasoning, thus limiting their usefulness. This thesis argues that both kinds of reasoning require a complex internal representation of the world. The use of Qualitative Process Theory and an interval-based representation of time are proposed as a representation scheme for such a world model. The planning system which was constructed has been tested on a set of realistic planning scenarios. It is shown that even simple planning problems, such as making a cup of coffee, require extensive reasoning if they are to be carried out successfully. The final Chapter concludes that the planning system described does allow the correct solution of planning problems involving complex side effects, which planners up to now have been unable to solve.