Combinatorial 2D Vector Field Topology Extraction and Simplification

  • Jan ReininghausEmail author
  • Ingrid Hotz
Part of the Mathematics and Visualization book series (MATHVISUAL)


This paper investigates a combinatorial approach to vector field topology. The theoretical basis is given by Robin Forman’s work on a combinatorial Morse theory for dynamical systems defined on general simplicial complexes. We formulateForman’s theory in a graph theoretic setting and provide a simple algorithm for the construction and topological simplification of combinatorial vector fields on 2D manifolds. Given a combinatorial vector field we are able to extract its topological skeleton including allperiodic orbits. Due to the solid theoretical foundation we know that the resulting structure is always topologically consistent. We explore the applicability and limitations of this combinatorial approach with several examples and determine its robustness with respect to noise.


Periodic Orbit Simplicial Graph Morse Theory Singular Homology Morse Decomposition 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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We would like to thank David Günther and Tino Weinkauf for many fruitful discussions on this topic and Christian Löwen for his great implementational efforts. This work was funded by the DFG Emmy-Noether research programm. All visualizations in this paper have been created using AMIRA - a system for advanced visual data analysis (see


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© Springer Berlin Heidelberg 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Zuse Institute Berlin (ZIB)BerlinGermany

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