Computing the Distance between Canal Surfaces
A canal surface is the envelope of a one-parameter set of moving spheres. We present an accurate and efficient method for computing the distance between two canal surfaces. First, we use a set of cone-spheres to enclose a canal surface. A cone-sphere is a surface generated by sweeping a sphere along a straight line segment with the radius of the sphere changing linearly; thus it is a truncated circular cone capped by spheres at the two ends. Then, for two canal surfaces we use the distances between their bounding cone-spheres to approximate their distance; the accuracy of this approximation is improved by subdividing the canal surfaces into more segments and use more cone-spheres to bound the segments, until a pre-specified threshold is reached. We present a method for computing tight bounding cone-spheres of a canal surface, which is an interesting problem in its own right. Based on it, we present a complete method for efficiently computing the distances between two canal surfaces using the distances among all pairs of their bounding cone-spheres. The key to its efficiency is a novel pruning technique that can eliminate most of the pairs of cone-spheres that do not contribute to the distance between the original canal surfaces. Experimental comparisons show that our method is more efficient than Lee et al’s method  for computing the distance between two complex objects composed of many canal surfaces.
Keywordscanal surface distance computation cone-spheres bounding volume distance interval
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