Discrete & Computational Geometry

, Volume 31, Issue 1, pp 139–171

Pseudo Approximation Algorithms with Applications to Optimal Motion Planning


DOI: 10.1007/s00454-003-2952-3

Cite this article as:
Asano, T., Kirkpatrick, D. & Yap, C. Discrete Comput Geom (2004) 31: 139. doi:10.1007/s00454-003-2952-3


We introduce a technique for computing approximate solutions to optimization problems. If $X$ is the set of feasible solutions, the standard goal of approximation algorithms is to compute $x\in X$ that is an $\varepsilon$-approximate solution in the following sense: $$d(x) \leq (1+\varepsilon)\, d(x^*),$$ where $x^* \in X$ is an optimal solution, $d\colon\ X\rightarrow {\Bbb R}_{\geq 0}$ is the optimization function to be minimized, and $\varepsilon>0$ is an input parameter. Our approach is first to devise algorithms that compute pseudo $\varepsilon$-approximate solutions satisfying the bound $$d(x) \leq d(x_R^*) + \varepsilon R,$$ where $R>0$ is a new input parameter. Here $x^*_R$ denotes an optimal solution in the space $X_R$ of $R$-constrained feasible solutions. The parameter $R$ provides a stratification of $X$ in the sense that (1) $X_R \subseteq X_{R’}$ for $R < R’$ and (2) $X_R = X$ for $R$ sufficiently large. We first describe a highly efficient scheme for converting a pseudo $\varepsilon$-approximation algorithm into a true $\varepsilon$-approximation algorithm. This scheme is useful because pseudo approximation algorithms seem to be easier to construct than $\varepsilon$-approximation algorithms. Another benefit is that our algorithm is automatically precision-sensitive. We apply our technique to two problems in robotics: (A) Euclidean Shortest Path (3ESP), namely the shortest path for a point robot amidst polyhedral obstacles in three dimensions, and (B) $d_1$-optimal motion for a rod moving amidst planar obstacles (1ORM). Previously, no polynomial time $\varepsilon$-approximation algorithm for (B) was known. For (A), our new solution is simpler than previous solutions and has an exponentially smaller complexity in terms of the input precision.

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Information Science, JAIST, Asahidai, Tatsunokuchi, Ishikana 923-12Japan
  2. 2.Department of Computer Science, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia, V6T 1Z4Canada
  3. 3.Courant Institute, New York University, 251 Mercer Street, New York, NY 10012USA

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