This paper reviews the gradient sampling methodology for solving nonsmooth, nonconvex optimization problems. An intuitively straightforward gradient sampling algorithm is stated and its convergence properties are summarized. Throughout this discussion, we emphasize the simplicity of gradient sampling as an extension of the steepest descent method for minimizing smooth objectives. We then provide overviews of various enhancements that have been proposed to improve practical performance, as well as of several extensions that have been made in the literature, such as to solve constrained problems. The paper also includes clarification of certain technical aspects of the analysis of gradient sampling algorithms, most notably related to the assumptions one needs to make about the set of points at which the objective is continuously differentiable. Finally, we discuss possible future research directions.
Submitted to: Special Methods for Nonsmooth Optimization (Springer, 2018), edited by A. Bagirov, M. Gaudioso, N. Karmitsa and M. Mäkelä.