A paper co-authored by researchers including FIT’s Pavel Surynka and published at the ICAPS 2020 conference received the Outstanding Student Paper Award. FIT CTU and the University of Southern California (USC) collaborated on the paper.
The ICAPS 2020 conference is a leading international conference for automated planning and scheduling – according to various rankings, it is one of the best conferences in this field. The conference is only for invited speakers, so to have an article accepted is a huge success and winning an award is a great honour. This was the first time when a paper with Czech participation received an award at ICAPS.
The Czech team wrote the article “Multi-Agent Pathfinding with Mutex Propagation” as part of the GAČR grant “Intelligent Algorithms for Generalized Variants of Multi-Agent Pathfinding”, whose main recipient is Pavel Surynek, researcher at FIT CTU. As is clear from the title of both the paper and the grant, it dealt with multi-agent path finding (MAPF). MAPF has recently been a widely studied problem; it deals with planning movement of mobile agents to predefined points without colliding with each other. Algorithms used in the solution of this problem can be used in autonomous traffic management.
The idea for the paper was suggested when Pavel Surynka met Satish Kumar and Sven Koenig (all of them senior researchers) at the AAAI 2019 conference in Hawaii. They wanted to find an answer to the question: “Why are mutexes not used in the MAPF problem, and what would happen if they were used?”
“We asked Hana Zhanga and Jiaoyang Li, students at USC, to help us since students are usually better programmers. They were able to successfully implement and test all these ideas concerning the use of mutexes.”
And surprisingly, mutexes worked great in MAPF and some fast algorithms were made even faster. So all there was left to do was write a paper.
The paper was submitted to the ICAPS conference. The rating took everyone by surprise –all reviewers gave it top ratings.
“I’ve never been given such ratings in my life as an author, but what’s more, I’ve never seen such ratings even as a reviewer. It was pretty clear that if there were any awards, we would definitely win one. And this is exactly what happened,” concludes Pavel Syrunek.