Date of Award

Spring 5-15-2018

Author's Department

Computer Science & Engineering

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Type



Medial axis is a classical shape descriptor. Among many good properties, medial axis is thin, centered in the shape, and topology preserving. Therefore, it is constantly sought after by researchers and practitioners in their respective domains. However, two barriers remain that hinder wide adoption of medial axis.

First, exact computation of medial axis is very difficult. Hence, in practice medial axis is approximated discretely. Though abundant approximation methods exist, they are either limited in scalability, insufficient in theoretical soundness, or susceptible to numerical issues. Second, medial axis is easily disturbed by small noises on its defining shape. A majority of current works define a significance measure to prune noises on medial axis. Among them, local measures are widely available due to their efficiency, but can be either too aggressive or conservative. While global measures outperform local ones in differentiating noises from features, they are rarely well-defined or efficient to compute.

In this dissertation, we attempt to address these issues with sound, robust and efficient solutions. In Chapter 2, we propose a novel medial axis approximation called voxel core. We show voxel core is topologically and geometrically convergent to the true medial axis. We then describe a straightforward implementation as a result of our simple definition. In a variety of experiments, our method is shown to be efficient and robust in delivering topological promises on a wide range of shapes. In Chapter 3, we present Erosion Thickness (ET) to regularize instability. ET is the first global measure in 3D that is well-defined and efficient to compute. To demonstrate its usefulness, we utilize ET to generate a family of shape revealing and topology preserving skeletons. Finally, we point out future directions, and potential applications of our works in real world problems.


English (en)


Tao Ju

Committee Members

Jeremy Buhler, Ayan Chakrabarti, Alvitta Ottley, David Letscher,


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