In Formulation 10.2, the cost functional in Item 6 must be defined carefully to ensure that finite values are always obtained, even though the number of stages tends to infinity. The discounted cost model provides one simple way to achieve this by rapidly decreasing costs in future stages. Its definition is based on the standard geometric series. For any real parameter ,
Now let denote a discount factor, which is applied in the definition of a cost functional:
The rate of cost decrease depends strongly on . For example, if , the costs decrease very rapidly. If , the convergence to zero is much slower. The trade-off is that with a large value of , more stages are taken into account, and the designed plan is usually of higher quality. If a small value of is used, methods such as value iteration converge much more quickly; however, the solution quality may be poor because of ``short sightedness.''
The term in (10.67) assumes different values depending on , , and . Since there are only a finite number of possibilities, they must be bounded by some positive constant .10.1 Hence,
Steven M LaValle 2012-04-20