The Sample Filter performs Poisson sampling of the input PointView. The practice of performing Poisson sampling via “Dart Throwing” was introduced in the mid-1980’s by [Cook1986] and [Dippe1985], and has been applied to point clouds in other software [Mesh2009].

Our implementation of Poisson sampling is made streamable by voxelizing the space and only adding points to the output PointView if they do not violate the minimum distance criterion (as specified by radius). The voxelization allows several optimizations, first by checking for existing points within the same voxel as the point under consideration, which are mostly likely to violate the minimum distance criterion. Furthermore, we can easily visit neighboring voxels (limiting the search to those that are populated) without the need to create a KD-tree from the entire input PointView first and performing costly spatial searches.


Starting with PDAL v2.3, the filters.sample now supports streaming mode. As a result, there is no longer an option to shuffle points (or to provide a seed for the shuffle).


Starting with PDAL v2.3, a cell option has been added that works with the existing radius. The user must provide one or the other, but not both. The provided option will be used to automatically compute the other. The relationship between cell and radius is such that the radius defines the radius of a sphere that circumscribes a voxel with edge length defined by cell.


Care must be taken with selection of the cell/radius option. Although the filter can now operate in streaming mode, if the extents of the point cloud are large (or conversely, if the cell size is small) the voxel occupancy map which grows as a function of these variables can still require a large memory footprint.


To operate in streaming mode, the filter will typically retain the first point to occupy a voxel (subject to the minimum distance criterion set forth earlier). This means that point ordering matters, and in fact, it is quite possible that points in the incoming stream can be ordered in such a way as to introduce undesirable artifacts (e.g., related to previous tiling of the data). In our experience, processing data that is still in scan order (ordered by GpsTime, if available) does produce reliable results, although to require this sort either internally or by inserting filters.sort prior to sampling would break our ability to stream the data.

Default Embedded Stage

This stage is enabled by default

Streamable Stage

This stage supports streaming operations



Voxel cell size. If radius is set, cell is automatically computed such that the cell is circumscribed by the sphere defined by radius.


Minimum distance between samples. If cell is set, radius is automatically computed to defined a sphere that circumscribes the voxel cell. Whether specified or derived, radius defines the minimum allowable distance between points.


An expression that limits points passed to a filter. Points that don’t pass the expression skip the stage but are available to subsequent stages in a pipeline. [Default: no filtering]


A strategy for merging points skipped by a ‘where’ option when running in standard mode. If true, the skipped points are added to the first point view returned by the skipped filter. If false, skipped points are placed in their own point view. If auto, skipped points are merged into the returned point view provided that only one point view is returned and it has the same point count as it did when the filter was run. [Default: auto]