5.2.1 Motivation and Basic Concepts

The state space for motion planning, $ {\cal C}$, is uncountably infinite, yet a sampling-based planning algorithm can consider at most a countable number of samples. If the algorithm runs forever, this may be countably infinite, but in practice we expect it to terminate early after only considering a finite number of samples. This mismatch between the cardinality of $ {\cal C}$ and the set that can be probed by an algorithm motivates careful consideration of sampling techniques. Once the sampling component has been defined, discrete planning methods from Chapter 2 may be adapted to the current setting. Their performance, however, hinges on the way the C-space is sampled.

Since sampling-based planning algorithms are often terminated early, the particular order in which samples are chosen becomes critical. Therefore, a distinction is made between a sample set and a sample sequence. A unique sample set can always be constructed from a sample sequence, but many alternative sequences can be constructed from one sample set.

Steven M LaValle 2012-04-20