Motion Planning and Applications
Robots, Digital Actors, and Molecules

(2006-07, Semester 1)

Overview | Organization | Schedule | Collaboration | Resources | Projects

Course  discussion forums are located on IVLE.
Overview & Invitation



With the rapid advances in technology, computational methods are used increasingly to understand and interact with the physical world. Many of these challenging problems require understanding the geometric relationships among physical objects:

  • What can robots do to avoid running into people walking around?

  • How can the motion of digital movie actors be synthesized automatically?

  • How many maneuvers does it take to park a car in a tight spot?

  • How do molecules change shapes over time to perform vital biological functions? 

This course presents a coherent computational framework for addressing this type of questions. The foundation of the framework and the state-of-the-art algorithms are illustrated in the context of several important applications, including robotics, computational biology, and computer animation. The course covers both classic results and, selectively, advances from recent research.

This course will benefit students who work in the above mentioned and related areas and who may come from different backgrounds (computer science, mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, etc.). It provides tools for solving a class of practical and challenging geometric problems. Students will do a course project of their choice to gain working knowledge of the topics covered. There will be no exams!

Prerequisites: The course is self-contained. However, students are expected to have basic knowledge in  algorithms, linear algebra, probability theory, and sufficient programming experiences. Prior knowledge in computational geometry and computer graphics are helpful, but not essential.

Look forward to seeing you in the class!


Course Organization

  • Instructor:
David Hsu (office: S15 #05-15)
  • Students:
see IVLE
  • Consultation:
TBA or by appointment
E-mail: cs5247@comp.nus.edu.sg
E-mail sent to other addresses may not get a timely response!!
  • Time & location:
Wed 6:30-8:30pm, S16 #03-07 (Seminar Room 1)
  • IVLE course web site:
see IVLE
  • Textbooks:
There is no required textbook for this course. Two reference books have been placed in the RBR section of Science Library to supplement the lecture slides.
  1. Robot Motion Planning. J.C. Latombe. Kluwer Academic Publishers, 1991.
  2. Principles of Robot Motion : Theory, Algorithms, and Implementations. H. Choset, K. M. Lynch, S. Hutchinson, G. Kantor, W. Burgard, L. E. Kavraki, and S. Thrun. MIT Press, 2005.
  • Course work & grading:

To complete the course successfully, a student will

  • actively participate in classroom discussions (10%);
  • hand in two paper-and-pencil homework assignments (20%);
  • present a research paper chosen from a list (20%);
  • do a course project (50%).

The percentage weight is only a guideline and is subject to small adjustment.


  • Late submissions:
In general, 10% penalty of the grade each day for up to three days. After three days, no late submissions are accepted, unless you have a justifiable reason and make arrangement with me in advance.





  Reading & Writing

  Digital Libraries

Acknowledgement: The development of this course has greatly benefited from Prof. Jean-Claude Latombe's course CS326A at Stanford University.

Last updated:  Mon Jul 31 16:58:31 SGT 2006