Exact Max-SAT solvers for over-constrained problems
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We present a new generic problem solving approach for over-constrained problems based on Max-SAT. We first define a Boolean clausal form formalism, called soft CNF formulas, that deals with blocks of clauses instead of individual clauses, and that allows one to declare each block either as hard (i.e.,
must be satisfied by any solution) or soft (i.e., can be violated by some solution). We then present two Max-SAT solvers that find a truth assignment that satisfies all the hard blocks of clauses and the maximum number of soft blocks of clauses. Our solvers are branch and bound algorithms equipped with original lazy data structures, powerful inference techniques, good quality lower bounds, and original variable selection heuristics. Finally, we report an experimental investigation on a representative sample of instances (random 2-SAT, Max-CSP, graph coloring, pigeon hole and quasigroup completion) which provides experimental evidence that our approach is very competitive compared with the state-of-the-art approaches developed in the CSP and SAT communities.