The doubly exponential running time of cylindrical algebraic decomposition inspired researchers to do better. It has been shown that quantifier elimination requires doubly exponential time ; however, motion planning is a different problem. Canny introduced a method that produces a roadmap directly from the semi-algebraic set, rather than constructing a cell decomposition along the way. Since there are doubly exponentially many cells in the cylindrical algebraic decomposition, avoiding this construction pays off. The resulting roadmap method of Canny solves the motion planning problem in time that is again polynomial in the number of polynomials and polynomial in the algebraic degree, but it is only singly exponential in dimension [170,173]; see also .
Much like the other combinatorial motion planning approaches, it is based on finding critical curves and critical points. The main idea is to construct linear mappings from to that produce silhouette curves of the semi-algebraic sets. Performing one such mapping on the original semi-algebraic set yields a roadmap, but it might not preserve the original connectivity. Therefore, linear mappings from to are performed on some -dimensional slices of the original semi-algebraic set to yield more roadmap curves. This process is applied recursively until the slices are already one-dimensional. The resulting roadmap is formed from the union of all of the pieces obtained in the recursive calls. The resulting roadmap has the same connectivity as the original semi-algebraic set .
Suppose that . Let denote the set of polynomials that define the semi-algebraic set, which is assumed to be a disjoint union of manifolds. Assume that each . First, a small perturbation to the input polynomials is performed to ensure that every sign-invariant set of is a manifold. This forces the polynomials into a kind of general position, which can be achieved with probability one using random perturbations; there are also deterministic methods to solve this problem. The general position requirements on the input polynomials and the 2D projection directions are fairly strong, which has stimulated more recent work that eliminates many of the problems . From this point onward, it will be assumed that the polynomials are in general position.
Recall the sign-assignment function from Section 6.4.1. Each sign-invariant set is a manifold because of the general position assumption. Canny's method computes a roadmap for any -dimensional manifold for . Such a manifold has precisely signs that are 0 (which means that points lie precisely on the zero sets of polynomials in ). At least one of the signs must be 0, which means that Canny's roadmap actually lies in (this technically is not permitted, but the algorithm nevertheless correctly decides whether a solution path exists through ).
Recall that each is a function, . Let denote . The polynomials that have zero signs can be put together sequentially to produce a mapping . The th component of the vector is . This is closely related to the sign assignment function of Section 6.4.1, except that now the real value from each polynomial is directly used, rather than taking its sign.
Now introduce a function , in which either or (the general concepts presented below work for other values of , but and are the only values needed for Canny's method). The function serves the same purpose as a projection in cylindrical algebraic decomposition, but note that immediately drops from dimension to dimension or , instead of dropping to as in the case of cylindrical projections.
Let denote a mapping constructed directly from and as follows. For the th component, if , then . Assume that . If , then . Let denote the Jacobian of and be defined at as
Now suppose that to obtain , and suppose . In this case, (6.28) becomes
The first mapping in Example 6.7 yielded two isolated critical points, and the second mapping yielded a one-dimensional set of critical points, which is referred to as a silhouette. The union of the silhouette and the isolated critical points yields a roadmap for . Now consider generalizing this example to obtain the full algorithm for general and . A linear mapping is constructed that might not be axis-aligned as in Example 6.7 because it must be chosen in general position (otherwise degeneracies might arise in the roadmap). Define to be the set of polynomials that become zero on the desired manifold on which to construct a roadmap. Form the matrix (6.28) and determine the silhouette. This is accomplished in general using subresultant techniques that were also needed for cylindrical algebraic decomposition; see [77,173] for details. Let denote the first component of , which yields a mapping . Forming using yields a finite set of critical points. Taking the union of the critical points and the silhouette produces part of the roadmap.
So far, however, there are no guarantees that the connectivity is preserved. To handle this problem, Canny's algorithm proceeds recursively. For each of the critical points , an -dimensional hyperplane through is chosen for which the row of is the normal (hence it is perpendicular in some sense to the flow of ). Inside of this hyperplane, a new mapping is formed. This time a new direction is chosen, and the mapping takes the form . Once again, the silhouettes and critical points are found and added to the roadmap. This process is repeated recursively until the base case in which the silhouettes and critical points are directly obtained without forming .
It is helpful to consider an example. Since the method involves a sequence of 2D projections, it is difficult to visualize. Problems in and higher involve two or more 2D projections and would therefore be more interesting. An example over is presented here, even though it unfortunately has only one projection; see  for another example over .
To solve a planning problem, the query points and are artificially declared to be critical points in the top level of recursion. This forces the algorithm to generate curves that connect them to the rest of the roadmap.
The completeness of the method requires very careful analysis, which is thoroughly covered in [77,173]. The main elements of the analysis are showing that: 1) the polynomials can be perturbed and can be chosen to ensure general position, 2) the singularity conditions on lead to algebraic sets (varieties), and 3) the resulting roadmap has the required properties mentioned in Section 6.1 of being accessible and connectivity-preserving for (actually it is shown for ). The method explained above computes the roadmap for each sign-invariant set, but to obtain a roadmap for the planning problem, the roadmaps from each sign-invariant set must be connected together correctly; fortunately, this has been solved via the Linking Lemma of . A major problem, however, is that even after knowing the connectivity of the roadmap, it is a considerable challenge to obtain a parameterization of each curve on the roadmap. For this and many other technical reasons, no general implementation of Canny's algorithm appears to exist at present. Another problem is the requirement of a Whitney stratification (which can be fixed by perturbation of the input). The Basu-Pollack-Roy roadmap algorithm overcomes this problem .
Steven M LaValle 2012-04-20