Pascal Bercher

Since July of 2009, I am a PhD student working in the field of Automated Planning, a subfield of Artificial Intelligence (AI). Large parts of my research are motivated by applying AI planning techniques for advanced assistance systems for human users.

I am pursuing this goal within the Transregional Collaborative Research Centre SFB/Transregio 62 (SFB-TRR-62) "A companion-technology for cognitive technical systems". I am working in the part project A1, "adaptive planning and decision making".

Please take a look at my research interests (see below) for a more elaborate list of my specific research directions within the field of AI planning.

You can also find me on DBLP and Google Scholar.

Further Information

  • Research Interests

    My research interests can roughly be categorized into two main streams: Foundations of Hierarchical Planning and their application for User-Centered Planning. For a more detailed overview, I want to refer to my dissertation abstract "Hybrid Planning -- Theoretical Foundations and Practical Applications".


    Foundations of Hierarchical Planning

    Hierarchical planning refers to a problem class that is centered around the decomposition of abstract tasks until an executable task network is generated. Such a task network consists of only primitive tasks and posseses a linearization that is executable in the initial state. Our institute developed an extension of standard hierarchical planning, which is often referred to as hierarchical task network (HTN) planning, to hybrid planning. Hybrid planning extends HTN planning via concepts known from partial-order causal-link (POCL) planning in the following ways:

    • Abstract tasks show preconditions and effects, just like primitive tasks. That way, we can restrict to legal methods. See my ECAI 2016 paper "More than a Name? On Implications of Preconditions and Effects of Compound HTN Planning Tasks" for details.
    • Task networks are now called partial plans. Partial plans extend task networks in that they can contain causal links, a concept known from POCL planning.


    My research includes the following topics:

    • Theoretical foundations of hybrid, HTN, and POCL planning. More specifically, I am interested in the computational complexity of the plan existence problem (of all of these problem classes).
    • Search techniques for hybrid planning.
    • Heuristics for hybrid, HTN, and POCL planning.


    User-Centered Planning


    With user-centered planning, we refer to the application of human/computer interaction technology and planning techniques that are centered around human users as a basis to provide automated assistance in a wide variety of possible applications.

    User-centered planning capabilities are capabilities that are essential when planning is applied in the real world, in particular when human users are involved. These include:

    • Repairing failed plans ("plan repair")
    • Finding user-friendly courses of action ("plan linearization")
    • Explaining plans to human users ("plan explanation")
    • Generating plans together with a human user ("mixed-initiative planning")


    We have created a prototype system that illustrates the integration of these techniques by providing automated support in setting up a complex home theater. The respective system has been demonstrated at AAAI 2015 (see the paper "A Planning-based Assistance System for Setting Up a Home Theater" at AAAI 2015) and described in detail in the ICAPS 2014 paper "Plan, Repair, Execute, Explain - How Planning Helps to Assemble your Home Theater".

  • Professional Activities

    I am currently coordinating the Ulmer activities of our transfer project "Do it yourself, but not alone" in which our AI institute and the institute of Communications Engineering is working together with BOSCH.

    I have been a guest editor for the journal "KI - Künstliche Intelligenz" for the special issue on companion-technologies, which appeared in February 2016. You will find the editorial (and other articles that I co-authored in that special issue) in my publication list.

    I was in charge of creating a video that promotes our planning-based assistant for setting up a complex home theater. The video further explains the applied scientific technologies for a not necessarily scientific audience.

    I have been a program committee member of IJCAI 2013, AAAI 2015, and AAAI 2017.


    I have been a reviewer for several conferences and journals including:

    • ICAPS 2012, 2015, 2016, 2017
    • IJCAI 2013, 2017
    • AAAI 2012, 2014, 2017.
    • ECAI 2016
    • KI 2012, 2013
    • KI Journal Special Issue, February 2016
  • Teaching

    University of Freiburg

    While I was still a student of Computer Science at the University of Freiburg, I was a tutor for several lectures. There, being a tutor implied correcting exercises (and exams, but don't tell! :)) and being a lecturer of the respective practice groups. These are the respective lectures:

    • Formal Methods and Programming (WS 08/09, Lecture of Cognitive Science)
    • Foundations of Artificial Intelligence (SS 08)
    • Foundations of Artificial Intelligence (SS 07)
    • Computer Science I (WS 05/06)

    Ulm University

    I was supporting my colleagues in several AI planning and foundational AI lectures. The lectures listed below are those which I was responsible for (which includes creating the exercises and exams as well as being a lecturer of the respective practice groups).

    • Intelligent Planning (SS 17)
    • Foundations of Artificial Intelligence (WS 13/14)
    • Foundations of Artificial Intelligence (WS 12/13)
    • Foundations of Artificial Intelligence (SS 10)


    In addition, I was a supervisor for one to three seminar participants in all of the following seminars:

    Introductory Seminars:

    • Artificial Intelligence (SS 17)
    • Artificial Intelligence (SS 16)
    • Artificial Intelligence (WS 15/16)
    • Artificial Intelligence (SS 15)
    • Artificial Intelligence (SS 13)
    • Artificial Intelligence (SS 12)


    Seminars:

    • Advances in Artificial Intelligence (SS 17)
    • Artificial Companions (SS 16)
    • Advances in Artificial Intelligence (WS 13/14)
    • Advances in Artificial Intelligence (WS 12/13)
    • Advances in Artificial Intelligence (SS 12)

    I did also supervise several Bachelor, Master, and Diploma theses as well as practicals and research and develpment projects. For a complete list, see the entry "Students".

  • Awards

    The system demo paper "A Planning-based Assistance System for Setting Up a Home Theater" at AAAI 2015 was selected as one of five to be presented at a press conference that was hold during the AAAI conference 2015. They selected only papers that are of interest to the public due to its relevance for today's society.

  • Projects

    While I was a student at the University of Freiburg, my student research project (similar to Bachelor thesis) as well as my Diploma thesis (similar to Master thesis) -- which resulted in various publications -- were motivated by AVACS (Automatic Verification And Analysis of Complex Systems).

    From 2009 to 2017 I am working in the Transregional Collaborative Research Centre SFB/Transregio 62 (SFB-TRR-62) "A companion-technology for cognitive technical systems".

    I am currently coordinating the Ulmer activities of our transferproject "Do it yourself, but not alone" in which our AI institute and the institute of Communications Engineering is working together with BOSCH.

  • Supervised Theses


    I have supervised various theses, projects, and practicals - see list below. Many of those were supervised by me and another colleage (or the other way round). A list of all theses that have been written at our institute are listed here.

    Diploma and Master Theses:

    • Exploiting Task Decomposition Graphs for Hierarchical Planning (2014)
    • Visualisierung hierarchischer Domänenmodelle (2012)
    • Partial-Order Causal-Link Planning mit Präferenzen (2012)

    Bachelor Theses:

    • Untersuchung von Konsistenz und Adäquatheit von Planungsmodellen (2017)
    • The Utility of SAT-Solving for Heuristics in POCL Planning (2016)
    • Implementierung und Evaluierung von Suchstrategien für Hybrides Planen (2013)
    • Entwicklung einer Methode zur graphischen Darstellung von Planerklärungen (2013)
    • Modellierung von Alltagsunterstützung als hybride Planungsdomäne: eine Fallstudie (2012)

    Research and Development Projects:

    • PANDA3 Visualizer (2016; this project was done in a team of 3 students)
    • Effiziente Behandlung von Dekompositionsaxiomen in PANDA2 (2015)

    Practicals:

    • Experimentiertool für PANDA2: PANDA2 Laboritory (2012)
  • Software

    I am one of the main developers of PANDA (Planning and Acting in a Network decomposition Architecture). PANDA is a planning system capable of solving hybrid planning problems. As such, it can also solve HTN problems, POCL problems, and classical planning problems.

    PANDA1 was developed by my former colleague Dr. Bernd Schattenberg. PANDA2 was mainly developed by me and my former colleage Bastian Seegebarth. We stopped the development and support of both versions. The current version, PANDA3, is mainly developed by my colleagues Gregor Behnke and Daniel Höller.

Selected Publications


pdf
Bercher, Pascal; Behnke, Gregor; Höller, Daniel; Biundo, Susanne
An Admissible HTN Planning Heuristic
Proceedings of the 26th International Joint Conference on Artificial Intelligence (IJCAI 2017)
Herausgeber: AAAI Press,
2017
pdf
Biundo, Susanne; Höller, Daniel; Schattenberg, Bernd; Bercher, Pascal
Companion-Technology: An Overview
Künstliche Intelligenz, 30(1):11-20
2016
pdf
Bercher, Pascal; Höller, Daniel; Behnke, Gregor; Biundo, Susanne
More than a Name? On Implications of Preconditions and Effects of Compound HTN Planning Tasks
Proceedings of the 22nd European Conference on Artificial Intelligence (ECAI 2016) , Seite 225--233.
Herausgeber: IOS Press,
2016
pdf
Bercher, Pascal; Biundo, Susanne; Geier, Thomas; Hoernle, Thilo; Nothdurft, Florian; Richter, Felix; Schattenberg, Bernd
Plan, Repair, Execute, Explain - How Planning Helps to Assemble your Home Theater
Proceedings of the 24th International Conference on Automated Planning and Scheduling (ICAPS 2014) , Seite 386--394.
Herausgeber: AAAI Press,
2014
pdf
Bercher, Pascal; Geier, Thomas; Richter, Felix; Biundo, Susanne
On Delete Relaxation in Partial-Order Causal-Link Planning
Proceedings of the 2013 IEEE 25th International Conference on Tools with Artificial Intelligence (ICTAI 2013) , Seite 674--681.
Herausgeber: IEEE Computer Society,
2013
pdf
Bercher, Pascal; Geier, Thomas; Biundo, Susanne
Using State-Based Planning Heuristics for Partial-Order Causal-Link Planning
Advances in Artificial Intelligence, Proceedings of the 36th German Conference on Artificial Intelligence (KI 2013) , Seite 1--12.
Herausgeber: Springer,
2013
pdf
Geier, Thomas; Bercher, Pascal
On the Decidability of HTN Planning with Task Insertion
Proceedings of the 22nd International Joint Conference on Artificial Intelligence (IJCAI 2011) , Seite 1955--1961.
Herausgeber: AAAI Press,
2011
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Publications


2017

41.
pdf
Nothdurft, Florian; Bercher, Pascal; Behnke, Gregor; Minker, Wolfgang
User Involvement in Collaborative Decision-Making Dialog Systems
In Kristiina Jokinen and Graham Wilcock, Editor, Dialogues with Social Robots: Enablements, Analyses, and Evaluation
Herausgeber: Springer,
2017
40.
pdf
Bercher, Pascal; Behnke, Gregor; Höller, Daniel; Biundo, Susanne
An Admissible HTN Planning Heuristic
Proceedings of the 26th International Joint Conference on Artificial Intelligence (IJCAI 2017)
Herausgeber: AAAI Press,
2017

2016

39.
pdf
Bercher, Pascal; Höller, Daniel
Interview with David E. Smith
Künstliche Intelligenz, 30(1):101-105
2016
38.
pdf
Biundo, Susanne; Höller, Daniel; Bercher, Pascal
Special Issue on Companion Technologies
Künstliche Intelligenz, 30(1):5-9
2016
37.
pdf
Biundo, Susanne; Höller, Daniel; Schattenberg, Bernd; Bercher, Pascal
Companion-Technology: An Overview
Künstliche Intelligenz, 30(1):11-20
2016
36.
pdf
Behnke, Gregor; Höller, Daniel; Bercher, Pascal; Biundo, Susanne
Change the Plan - How hard can that be?
Proceedings of the 26th International Conference on Automated Planning and Scheduling (ICAPS 2016) , Seite 38--46.
Herausgeber: AAAI Press,
2016
35.
pdf
Höller, Daniel; Behnke, Gregor; Bercher, Pascal; Biundo, Susanne
Assessing the Expressivity of Planning Formalisms through the Comparison to Formal Languages
Proceedings of the 26th International Conference on Automated Planning and Scheduling (ICAPS 2016) , Seite 158--165.
Herausgeber: AAAI Press,
2016
34.
pdf
Alford, Ron; Behnke, Gregor; Höller, Daniel; Bercher, Pascal; Biundo, Susanne; Aha, David
Bound to Plan: Exploiting Classical Heuristics via Automatic Translations of Tail-Recursive HTN Problems
Proceedings of the 26th International Conference on Automated Planning and Scheduling (ICAPS 2016) , Seite 20--28.
Herausgeber: AAAI Press,
2016
33.
pdf
Bercher, Pascal; Höller, Daniel; Behnke, Gregor; Biundo, Susanne
More than a Name? On Implications of Preconditions and Effects of Compound HTN Planning Tasks
Proceedings of the 22nd European Conference on Artificial Intelligence (ECAI 2016) , Seite 225--233.
Herausgeber: IOS Press,
2016

2015

32.
pdf
Bercher, Pascal
Hybrid Planning -- Theoretical Foundations and Practical Applications
Doctoral Consortium at ICAPS 2015
2015
31.
pdf
Behnke, Gregor; Ponomaryov, Denis; Schiller, Marvin; Bercher, Pascal; Nothdurft, Florian; Glimm, Birte; Biundo, Susanne
Coherence Across Components in Cognitive Systems – One Ontology to Rule Them All
Proceedings of the 25th International Joint Conference on Artificial Intelligence (IJCAI 2015) , Seite 1442-1449.
Herausgeber: AAAI Press,
2015
30.
pdf
Alford, Ron; Bercher, Pascal; Aha, David
Tight Bounds for HTN planning with Task Insertion
Proceedings of the 25th International Joint Conference on Artificial Intelligence (IJCAI 2015) , Seite 1502--1508.
Herausgeber: AAAI Press,
2015
29.
pdf
Behnke, Gregor; Bercher, Pascal; Biundo, Susanne; Glimm, Birte; Ponomaryov, Denis; Schiller, Marvin
Integrating Ontologies and Planning for Cognitive Systems
Proceedings of the 28th International Workshop on Description Logics (DL 2015)
Herausgeber: CEUR Workshop Proceedings,
2015
28.
pdf
Alford, Ron; Bercher, Pascal; Aha, David
Tight Bounds for HTN planning with Task Insertion (Extended Abstract)
Proceedings of the Eighth Annual Symposium on Combinatorial Search (SoCS) , Seite 221--222.
Herausgeber: AAAI Press,
2015
27.
pdf
Nothdurft, Florian; Behnke, Gregor; Bercher, Pascal; Biundo, Susanne; Minker, Wolfgang
The Interplay of User-Centered Dialog Systems and AI Planning
Proceedings of the 16th Annual Meeting of the Special Interest Group on Discourse and Dialogue (SIGDIAL) , Seite 344--353.
Herausgeber: Association for Computational Linguistics,
2015
26.
pdf
Bercher, Pascal; Höller, Daniel; Behnke, Gregor; Biundo, Susanne
User-Centered Planning - A Discussion on Planning in the Presence of Human Users
Proceedings of the First International Symposium on Companion Technology (ISCT 2015) , Seite 79--82.
2015
25.
pdf
Behnke, Gregor; Schiller, Marvin; Ponomaryov, Denis; Nothdurft, Florian; Bercher, Pascal; Minker, Wolfgang; Glimm, Birte; Biundo, Susanne
A Unified Knowledge Base for Companion-Systems - A Case Study in Mixed-Initiative Planning
Proceedings of the First International Symposium on Companion Technology (ISCT 2015) , Seite 43--48.
2015
24.
pdf
Alford, Ron; Bercher, Pascal; Aha, David
Tight Bounds for HTN Planning
Proceedings of the 25th International Conference on Automated Planning and Scheduling (ICAPS 2015) , Seite 7--15.
Herausgeber: AAAI Press,
2015
23.
pdf
Bercher, Pascal; Richter, Felix; Hörnle, Thilo; Geier, Thomas; Höller, Daniel; Behnke, Gregor; Nothdurft, Florian; Honold, Frank; Minker, Wolfgang; Weber, Michael; Biundo, Susanne
A Planning-based Assistance System for Setting Up a Home Theater
Proceedings of the 29th National Conference on Artificial Intelligence (AAAI 2015) , Seite 4264--4265.
Herausgeber: AAAI Press,
2015

2014

22.
pdf
Bercher, Pascal; Keen, Shawn; Biundo, Susanne
Hybrid Planning Heuristics Based on Task Decomposition Graphs
Proceedings of the Seventh Annual Symposium on Combinatorial Search (SoCS 2014) , Seite 35--43.
Herausgeber: AAAI Press,
2014
21.
pdf
Honold, Frank; Bercher, Pascal; Richter, Felix; Nothdurft, Florian; Geier, Thomas; Barth, Roland; Hörnle, Thilo; Schüssel, Felix; Reuter, Stephan; Rau, Matthias; Bertrand, Gregor; Seegebarth, Bastian; Kurzok, Peter; Schattenberg, Bernd; Minker, Wolfgang; Weber, Michael; Biundo, Susanne
Companion-Technology: Towards User- and Situation-Adaptive Functionality of Technical Systems
10th International Conference on Intelligent Environments (IE 2014) , Seite 378--381.
Herausgeber: IEEE,
2014
20.
pdf
Höller, Daniel; Behnke, Gregor; Bercher, Pascal; Biundo, Susanne
Language Classification of Hierarchical Planning Problems
In Schaub, Torsten and Friedrich, Gerhard and O'Sullivan, Barry, Editor, Proceedings of the 21st European Conference on Artificial Intelligence (ECAI 2014) Band 263 aus Frontiers in Artificial Intelligence and Applications , Seite 447-452.
Herausgeber: IOS Press, Amsterdam
2014
19.
pdf
Bercher, Pascal; Biundo, Susanne; Geier, Thomas; Hoernle, Thilo; Nothdurft, Florian; Richter, Felix; Schattenberg, Bernd
Plan, Repair, Execute, Explain - How Planning Helps to Assemble your Home Theater
Proceedings of the 24th International Conference on Automated Planning and Scheduling (ICAPS 2014) , Seite 386--394.
Herausgeber: AAAI Press,
2014
18.
pdf
Höller, Daniel; Bercher, Pascal; Richter, Felix; Schiller, Marvin; Geier, Thomas; Biundo, Susanne
Finding User-friendly Linearizations of Partially Ordered Plans
28th PuK Workshop "Planen, Scheduling und Konfigurieren, Entwerfen" (PuK 2014)
2014
17.
pdf
Pragst, Louisa; Richter, Felix; Bercher, Pascal; Schattenberg, Bernd; Biundo, Susanne
Introducing Hierarchy to Non-Hierarchical Planning Models – A Case Study for Behavioral Adversary Models
28th PuK Workshop "Planen, Scheduling und Konfigurieren, Entwerfen" (PuK 2014)
2014

2013

16.
pdf
Bercher, Pascal; Geier, Thomas; Richter, Felix; Biundo, Susanne
On Delete Relaxation in Partial-Order Causal-Link Planning
Proceedings of the 2013 IEEE 25th International Conference on Tools with Artificial Intelligence (ICTAI 2013) , Seite 674--681.
Herausgeber: IEEE Computer Society,
2013
15.
pdf
Bercher, Pascal; Ginter, Fabian; Biundo, Susanne
Search Strategies for Partial-Order Causal-Link Planning with Preferences
27th PuK Workshop "Planen, Scheduling und Konfigurieren, Entwerfen" (PuK 2013) , Seite 29--40.
2013
14.
pdf
Bercher, Pascal; Geier, Thomas; Biundo, Susanne
Using State-Based Planning Heuristics for Partial-Order Causal-Link Planning
Advances in Artificial Intelligence, Proceedings of the 36th German Conference on Artificial Intelligence (KI 2013) , Seite 1--12.
Herausgeber: Springer,
2013
13.
pdf
Bercher, Pascal; Biundo, Susanne
Encoding Partial Plans for Heuristic Search
Proceedings of the 4th Workshop on Knowledge Engineering for Planning and Scheduling (KEPS 2013) at ICAPS 2013 , Seite 11--15.
2013

2012

12.
pdf
Elkawkagy, Mohamed; Bercher, Pascal; Schattenberg, Bernd; Biundo, Susanne
Improving Hierarchical Planning Performance by the Use of Landmarks
Proceedings of the 26th National Conference on Artificial Intelligence (AAAI 2012) , Seite 1763--1769.
Herausgeber: AAAI Press,
Juli 2012
11.
pdf
Bercher, Pascal; Biundo, Susanne
A Heuristic for Hybrid Planning with Preferences
Proceedings of the Twenty-Fifth International Florida Artificial Intelligence Research Society Conference (FLAIRS 2012) , Seite 120--123.
Herausgeber: AAAI Press,
Mai 2012

2011

10.
pdf
Biundo, Susanne; Bercher, Pascal; Geier, Thomas; Müller, Felix; Schattenberg, Bernd
Advanced user assistance based on AI planning
Cognitive Systems Research, 12(3-4):219--236
2011
ISSN: 1389--0417
9.
pdf
Geier, Thomas; Bercher, Pascal
On the Decidability of HTN Planning with Task Insertion
Proceedings of the 22nd International Joint Conference on Artificial Intelligence (IJCAI 2011) , Seite 1955--1961.
Herausgeber: AAAI Press,
2011
8.
pdf
Elkawkagy, Mohamed; Bercher, Pascal; Schattenberg, Bernd; Biundo, Susanne
Landmark-Aware Strategies for Hierarchical Planning
Workshop on Heuristics for Domain-independent Planning (HDIP 2011) at ICAPS 2011 , Seite 73--79.
2011
7.
pdf
Bercher, Pascal; Biundo, Susanne
Hybrid Planning with Preferences Using a Heuristic for Partially Ordered Plans
26th PuK Workshop "Planen, Scheduling und Konfigurieren, Entwerfen" (PuK 2011)
2011

2010

6.
pdf
Mattmüller, Robert; Ortlieb, Manuela; Helmert, Malte; Bercher, Pascal
Pattern Database Heuristics for Fully Observable Nondeterministic Planning
Proceedings of the 20th International Conference on Automated Planning and Scheduling (ICAPS 2010) , Seite 105--112.
Herausgeber: AAAI Press,
2010
5.
pdf
Elkawkagy, Mohamed; Bercher, Pascal; Schattenberg, Bernd; Biundo, Susanne
Exploiting Landmarks for Hybrid Planning
Proceedings of the 25th PuK Workshop "Planen, Scheduling und Konfigurieren, Entwerfen" (PuK 2010)
2010

2009

4.
pdf
Bercher, Pascal; Mattmüller, Robert
Solving Non-deterministic Planning Problems with Pattern Database Heuristics
In Bärbel Mertsching and Marcus Hund and Zaheer Aziz, Editor, Proceedings of the 32nd Annual German Conference on Artificial Intelligence (KI 2009) Band 5803 aus LNAI , Seite 57--64.
Herausgeber: Springer,
2009
ISBN: 978-3-642-04616-2
3.
pdf
Bercher, Pascal
Anwendung von Pattern-Database-Heuristiken zum Lösen nichtdeterministischer Planungsprobleme
Diploma Thesis
University of Freiburg, Germany,
2009

2008

2.
pdf
Bercher, Pascal; Mattmüller, Robert
A Planning Graph Heuristic for Forward-Chaining Adversarial Planning
Proceedings of the 18th European Conference on Artificial Intelligence (ECAI 2008) , Seite 921--922.
Herausgeber: IOS Press,
2008
1.
pdf
Bercher, Pascal; Mattmüller, Robert
A Planning Graph Heuristic for Forward-Chaining Adversarial Planning
Dokument Nummer: 238
University of Freiburg, Germany,
2008
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Contact

  • email: pascal.bercher(at)uni-ulm.de
  • phone: +49 (0)731/50-24118
  • fax: +49 (0)731/50-24119
  • Postal address

  • Pascal Bercher
  • Universität Ulm
  • Institut für Künstliche Intelligenz
  • D-89069 Ulm
  • Office

  • James-Franck-Ring
  • building O27, level 4 (yellow)
  • room 446