Status Affiliate Faculty

Home Department of Computer Science

Phone 265-6313



  • Biography

    Steven M. LaValle received Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 1995. From 1995-1997 he was a postdoctoral researcher at Stanford, and an assistant professor at Iowa State from 1997-2001. He is an assistant professor in the Department of Computer Science and a part-time member of the Artificial Intelligence group. His fields of professional interest are robotics, artificial intelligence, algorithms, and computational biology.

  • Honors

    National Science Foundation CAREER Award (1999); Beckman Graduate Fellow (1994); Mavis Fellowship (CoE, U of I, 1994)

  • Research

    Steve LaValle's research addresses geometric reasoning issues that arise in many applications, such as robotics, virtual prototyping, and computational biology. One of the great challenges in these areas is to develop efficient algorithms for computing automatic motions of complicated bodies that are described using geometric models, kinematics, and dynamics. In some of his recent work, he introduced Rapidly-exploring Random Tress (RRTs), which is a randomized algorithm that efficiently explores high-dimensional spaces under both global and differential constraints. Algorithms based on RRTs have demonstrated superior performance in problems such as path planning for humanoid robots and trajectory design for spacecraft. Other possible applications include protein folding and drug design. In other work, he develops algorithms for reasoning about motion and visibility in complicated environments. An example is an algorithm which computes a robot motion strategy that is guaranteed to always win in a game of "hide-and-seek" in a polygonal environment.

  • 2001

    • S. M. LaValle and P. Konkimalla (2001), "Algorithms for Computing Numerical Optimal Feedback Motion Strategies," International Journal of Robotics Research, 20/9, pp. 729-752.
    • S. M. LaValle, J.J. Kuffner (2001), "Randomized Kinodynamic Planning," International Journal of Robotics Research, 20/5, pp. 378-400.


    • S. M. LaValle (2000), "Robot Motion Planning: A Game-Theoretic Foundation," Algorithmica, 26/3, pp. 430-465.
    • S. M. LaValle, B. Simov, G. Slutzki (2000), "An Algorithm for Searching a Polygonal Region with a Flashlight,” Proc. ACM Symposium on Computational Geometry, pp.260-269.
    • S. M. LaValle, P. W. Finn, L. E. Kavraki, J.-C. Latombe (2000), "A Randomized Kinematics-Based Approach to Pharmacophore-Constrained Conformational Search and Database Screening," Journal of Computational Chemistry, 21/9, pp. 731-747.