Macros have a long-standing role in planning as a tool for representing repeating subsequences of operators. Macros are useful both for guiding search towards a solution and for representing plans compactly. In this paper we introduce automata plans which consist of hierarchies of finite state automata. Automata plans can be viewed as an extension of macros that enables parametrization and branching. We provide several examples of the utility of automata plans, and prove that automata plans are strictly more expressive than macro plans. We also prove that automata plans admit polynomialtime sequential access of the operators in the underlying “flat” plan, and identify a subset of automata plans that admit polynomial-time random access. Finally, we compare automata plans with other representations allowing polynomial-time sequential access.
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