Computer Science and Engineering, Department of


Date of this Version



Swearngin, Choueiry & Freuder in Ninth International Symposium on Abstraction, Reformulation and Approximation (SARA) 2011. Pages 107-116. Copyright 2011, AAAI Press. Used by permission.


In this paper we describe a reformulation strategy for solving multi-dimensional Constraint Satisfaction Problems (CSPs). This strategy operates by iteratively considering, in isolation, each one of the uni-dimensional constraints in the problem. It exploits the approximate symmetries identified on the domain values in order to enforce the selected constraint on the simplified problem. This paper uses the game of SET, a combinatorial card game, to motivate and illustrate our strategy. We propose a multi-dimensional constraint model for SET, and describe a basic constraint solver for finding all solutions of an instance of the game. Then, we introduce an algorithm that implements our reformulation strategy, and show that it yields a dramatic reduction of the search effort. Our approach sheds a new light on the dynamic reformulation of CSPs, leading the way to new strategies for effective problem solving. We use the game of SET as a toy problem to illustrate our strategy and explain its operation. We believe that our approach is applicable to more complex domains of scientific and industrial importance, and deserves thorough investigations in the future.