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Smooth surfaces, umbilics, lines of curvatures, foliations, ridges and the medial axis: a concise overview

Frédéric Cazals 1 Marc Pouget
1 GEOMETRICA - Geometric computing
CRISAM - Inria Sophia Antipolis - Méditerranée
Abstract : The understanding of surfaces embedded in R^3 requires local and global concepts, which are respectively evocative of differential geometry and differential topology. While the local theory has been classical for decades, global objects such as the foliations defined by the lines of curvature, or the medial axis still pose challenging mathematical problems. This duality is also tangible from a practical perspective, since algorithms manipulating sampled smooth surfaces (meshes or point clouds) are more developed in the local than the global category. As an example and assuming this makes sense for the applications encompassed, we are not aware as of today of any algorithm able to report ---under reasonable assumptions--- a topologically correct medial axis or foliation from a sampled surface. As a prerequisite for those interested in the development of algorithms for the manipulation of surfaces, we propose a concise overview of global objects related to curvature properties of a smooth generic surface. Gathering from differential topology and singularity theory sources, our presentation focuses on the geometric intuition rather than the technicalities. We first recall the classification of umbilics, of curvature lines, and describe the corresponding stable foliations. Next, fundamentals of contact and singularity theory are recalled, together with the classification of points induced by the contact of the surface with a sphere. This classification is further used to define ridges and their properties, and to recall the stratification properties of the medial axis. From a theoretical perspective, we expect this survey to ease the access to intricate notions scattered over several sources. From a practical standpoint, we hope it will be helpful for those interested in the manipulation of surfaces without using global parametrizations, and also for those aiming at producing globally coherent approximations of surfaces.
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Submitted on : Tuesday, May 23, 2006 - 5:33:47 PM
Last modification on : Friday, February 4, 2022 - 3:15:27 AM
Long-term archiving on: : Sunday, April 4, 2010 - 10:14:54 PM


  • HAL Id : inria-00071445, version 1



Frédéric Cazals, Marc Pouget. Smooth surfaces, umbilics, lines of curvatures, foliations, ridges and the medial axis: a concise overview. RR-5138, INRIA. 2004. ⟨inria-00071445⟩



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