Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


School of Computer Science and Software Engineering - Faculty of Informatics


This thesis investigates issues with existing approaches to distributed constraint satisfaction, and proposes a solution in the form of a new algorithm. These issues are most evident when solving large distributed constraint satisfaction problems, hence the title of the thesis.

We will first survey existing algorithms for centralised constraint satisfaction, and describe how they have been modified to handle distributed constraint satisfaction. The method by which each algorithm achieves completeness will be investigated and analysed by application of a new theorem.

We will then present a new algorithm, Support-Based Distributed Search, developed explicitly for distributed constraint satisfaction rather than being derived from centralised algorithms. This algorithm is inspired by the inherent structure of human arguments and similar mechanisms we observe in real-world negotiations.

A number of modifications to this new algorithm are considered, and comparisons are made with existing algorithms, effectively demonstrating its place within the field. Empirical analysis is then conducted, and comparisons are made to state-of-the-art algorithms most able to handle large distributed constraint satisfaction problems.

Finally, it is argued that any future development in distributed constraint satisfaction will necessitate changes in the algorithms used to solve small ‘embedded’ constraint satisfaction problems. The impact on embedded constraint satisfaction problems is considered, with a brief presentation of an improved algorithm for hypertree decomposition.

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