Temporal constraint networks. (English) Zbl 0737.68070

Summary: This paper extends network-based methods of constraint satisfaction to include continuous variables, thus providing a framework for processing temporal constraints. In this framework, called temporal constraint satisfaction problem (TCSP), variables represent time points and temporal information is represented by a set of unary and binary constraints, each specifying a set of permitted intervals. The unique feature of this framework lies in permitting the processing of metric information, namely, assessments of time differences between events. We present algorithms for performing the following reasoning tasks: finding all feasible times that a given event can occur, finding all possible relationships between two given events, and generating one or more scenarios consistent with the information provided.
We distinguish between simple temporal problems (STPs) and general temporal problems, the former admitting at most one interval constraint on any pair of time points. We show that the STP, which subsumes the major part of Vilain and Kautz’s point algebra, can be solved in polynomial time. For general TCSPs, we present a decomposition scheme that performs the three reasoning tasks considered, and introduce a variety of techniques for improving its efficiency. We also study the applicability of path consistency algorithms as preprocessing of temporal problems, demonstrate their termination and bound their complexities.


68T15 Theorem proving (deduction, resolution, etc.) (MSC2010)
68R10 Graph theory (including graph drawing) in computer science
Full Text: DOI


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