The local beam search algorithm keeps track of k states rather than just one. It begins with k randomly generated states. At each step, all the successors of all k states are generated. If any one is a goal, the algorithm halts. Otherwise, it selects the k best successors from the complete list and repeats
At first sight, a local beam search with k states might seem to be nothing more than running k random restarts in parallel instead of in sequence. In fact, the two algorithms are quite different. In a random-restart search, each search process runs independently of the others.
In a local beam search, useful information is passed among the parallel search threads. In effect, the states that generate the best successors say to the others, “Come over here, the grass is greener!” The algorithm quickly abandons unfruitful searches and moves its resources to where the most progress is being made
In its simplest form, local beam search can suffer from a lack of diversity among the k states—they can quickly become concentrated in a small region of the state space, making the search little more than an expensive version of hill climbing.
A variant called stochastic beam search, analogous to stochastic hill climbing, helps alleviate this problem.
Instead of choosing the best k from the the pool of candidate successors, stochastic beam search chooses k successors at random, with the probability of choosing a given successor being an increasing function of its value. Stochastic beam search bears some resemblance to the process of natural selection, whereby the “successors” (offspring) of a “state” (organism) populate the next generation according to its “value” (fitness).