A model for optimal human navigation with stochastic effects

Christian Parkinson, David Arnold, Andrea Bertozzi, Stanley Osher

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


We present a method for optimal path planning of human walking paths in mountainous terrain using a control theoretic formulation and a Hamilton-Jacobi-Bellman equation. Previous models for human navigation were entirely deterministic, assuming perfect knowledge of the ambient elevation data and human walking velocity as a function of the local slope of the terrain. Our model includes a stochastic component which can account for uncertainty in the problem and thus includes a Hamilton-Jacobi-Bellman equation with viscosity. We discuss the model in the presence and absence of stochastic effects and suggest numerical methods for simulating the model. We discuss two different notions of an optimal path when there is uncertainty in the problem. Finally, we compare the optimal paths suggested by the model at different levels of uncertainty and observe that as the size of the uncertainty tends to zero (and thus the viscosity in the equation tends to zero), the optimal path tends toward the deterministic optimal path.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1862-1881
Number of pages20
JournalSIAM Journal on Applied Mathematics
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • optimal path planning
  • stochastic control
  • anisotropic control
  • stochastic Hamilton-Jacobi-Bellman equation

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'A model for optimal human navigation with stochastic effects'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this