Model selection and testing for an automated constraint modelling toolchain
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Constraint Programming (CP) is a powerful technique for solving a variety of combinatorial problems. Automated modelling using a refinement based approach abstracts over modelling decisions in CP by allowing users to specify their problem in a high level specification language such as ESSENCE. This refinement process produces many models resulting from different choices that can be selected, each with their own strengths. A parameterised specification represents a problem class where the parameters of the class define the instance of the class we wish to solve. Since each model has different performance characteristics the model chosen is crucial to be able to solve the instance effectively. This thesis presents a method to generate instances automatically for the purpose of choosing a subset of the available models that have superior performance across the instance space. The second contribution of this thesis is a framework to automate the testing of a toolchain for automated modelling. This process includes a generator of test cases that covers all aspects of the ESSENCE specification language. This process utilises our first contribution namely instance generation to generate parameterised specifications. This framework can detect errors such as inconsistencies in the model produced during the refinement process. Once we have identified a specification that causes an error, this thesis presents our third contribution; a method for reducing the specification to a much simpler form, which still exhibits a similar error. Additionally this process can generate a set of complementary specifications including specifications that do not cause the error to help pinpoint the root cause.
Thesis, PhD Doctor of Philosophy
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