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## Constraint ProgrammingI have been reading a bit of late on Constraint Programming and thought I'd dump some of the links that have helped me along the way. One problem I find with learning Constraint Programming is that I easily get bogged down in the details of implementation and theory. In basic terms, CP consists of a three stage process: (1) Declare the domain (range) of the variables; (2) Declare the constraints on those variables; and (3) Search for solutions. The 1st and 2nd stages can be combined without too much loss, but there seems to be a general consensus that search should be kept separate as much as possible, since it usually is the most expensive and the least declarative. Most of the resources concentrate on the details about how to go about defining programs in these three stages, as well as giving hints about limiting the combinatorial explosion of the search. The best tutorial I've found is Finite Domain Constraint Programming in Oz which gives a pretty good practical introduction to the subject. Constraint Programming in Alice is a related work in progress that follows the same general outline. For those who like slide presentations, the lecture notes of Christian Schulte and Guido Tack are good resources. Both Christian and Guido are working on the implementation of Gecode, which is a set of libraries (in C++) that seek to take the model of computation spaces, as first realized in Oz, and extend their reach into other programming languages (Christian uses Java, while Guido uses Alice). For a more detailed look, Christian Schulte's PhD thesis on Programming Constraint Services is an in depth treatise on the use of computation spaces for CP. One book I've been eyeing is Constraint Based Local Search which uses COMET as the PL. My only hesitation is that I don't quite grok the concept of Local Search - a search method that is supposed to be quite efficient but not guaranteed to find a solution. Anyone care to hit me with a clue-by-four on Local Search? |
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