Author's School

School of Engineering & Applied Science

Author's Department/Program

Computer Science and Engineering


English (en)

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Chair and Committee

Tao Ju


Medial axis is a classical shape descriptor. It is a piece of geometry that lies in the middle of the original shape. Compared to the original shape representation, the medial axis is always one dimension lower and it carries many intrinsic shape properties explicitly. Therefore, it is widely used in a large amount of applications in various fields. However, medial axis is unstable to the boundary noise, often referred to as its instability. A small amount of change on the object boundary can cause a dramatic change in the medial axis. To tackle this problem, a significance measure is often associated with the medial axis, so that medial points with small significance are removed and only the stable part remains. In addition to this problem, many applications prefer even lower dimensional medial forms, e.g., shape centers of 2D shapes, and medial curves of 3D shapes. Unfortunately, good significance measures and good definitions of lower dimensional medial forms are still lacking. In this dissertation, we extended Blum's grassfire burning to the medial axis in both 2D and 3D to define a significance measure as a distance function on the medial axis. We show that this distance function is well behaved and it has nice properties. In 2D, we also define a shape center based on this distance function. We then devise an iterative algorithm to compute the distance function and the shape center. We demonstrate usefulness of this distance function and shape center in various applications. Finally we point out the direction for future research based on this dissertation.


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