Multiresolution Signal Processing for Meshes
Igor Guskov
Princeton University
Wim Sweldens
Bell Laboratories
Peter Schröder
Figure 1: Mount Meshmore (Design Khrysaundt Koenig).
1 Introduction
We generalize basic signal processing tools such as downsampling,
upsampling, and filters to irregular connectivity triangle meshes.
This is accomplished through the design of a non-uniform relaxation procedure whose weights depend on the geometry and we
show its superiority over existing schemes whose weights depend
only on connectivity. This is combined with known mesh simplification methods to build subdivision and pyramid algorithms. We
demonstrate the power of these algorithms through a number of application examples including smoothing, enhancement, editing, and
texture mapping.
3D range sensing is capable of producing detailed and densely sampled triangular meshes of high quality. Increasing deployment of
this technology in the automotive and entertainment industries, as
well as many other areas, has fueled the need for algorithms to process such datasets. Examples include editing, simplification, denoising, compression, and finite element simulation.
In the case of regularly sampled data, for example images, basic
signal processing tools such as filtering, subsampling, and upsampling exist. These can be used to build subdivision and pyramid
algorithms, which are useful in many applications. Our goal is the
construction of signal processing style analyses and algorithms for
triangle meshes.
Building the elements of a signal processing toolbox for meshes
is not immediately straightforward since there are essential differences between images, for example, and meshes. Images are functions defined on Euclidean (“flat”) geometry and are almost always
sampled on a regular grid. Consequently, algorithms such as subsampling and upsampling are straightforward to define, and uniform filtering methods are appropriate. This makes Fourier analysis an elegant and efficient tool for the construction and analysis of
signal processing algorithms.
In contrast, triangle meshes of arbitrary connectivity form an inherently irregular sampling setting. Additionally we are dealing
with general 2-manifolds as opposed to a Euclidean space. Consequently new algorithms need to be developed which incorporate the
fundamental differences between images and meshes.
A crucial first observation concerns the difference between geometric and parametric smoothness. Geometric smoothness measures how much triangle normals vary over the mesh. Geometric
CR Categories and Subject Descriptors: I.3.5 [Computer Graphics]: Computational Geometry and Object Modeling - hierarchy and geometric transformations, object hierarchies; I.4.3 [Image Processing and Computer Vision]: Enhancement filtering, geometric correction, sharpening and deblurring, smoothing; G.1.2 [Numerical Analysis]: Approximation - approximation of surfaces and contours, wavelets and
Additional Keywords: Meshes, subdivision, irregular connectivity, surface parameterization, multiresolution, wavelets, Laplacian Pyramid.
In order to describe our contribution and its relationship to
existing work we need to set some terminology. Among triangulations we distinguish three types
• Regular: every vertex has degree six;
• Irregular: vertices can have any degree;
• Semi-regular: formed by starting with a coarse irregular
triangulation and performing repeated quadrisection on
all triangles. Coarse vertices have arbitrary degree while
all other vertices have degree six.
In all cases we assume that any triangulation is a proper 2manifold with boundary. On the boundary regular vertices
have degree four. Each of these triangulations call for different filtering and subdivision algorithms:
• Uniform: fixed coefficient stencils everywhere; typically
used only on regular triangulations;
• Non-uniform: filter coefficients depend on the connectivity and geometry of the triangulation;
• Semi-uniform: coefficients of filters depend only on the
(local) connectivity of the triangulation; typically used on
semi-regular triangulations.
Using our terminology, for example, traditional subdivision [22] uses semi-uniform filters on semi-regular meshes.
smoothness implies that there exists some smooth (differentiable)
parameterization of the mesh. However, any particular parameterization may well be non-smooth. The smoothness of the parameterizations is important in most numerical algorithms, which work
only with the coordinate functions the user provides. The algorithms’ behavior, such as convergence rates or the quality of the
results, generally depends strongly on the smoothness of the coordinate functions.
In the regular setting of an image, or the knots of a uniform tensor product spline, we may simply use a uniform parameterization
and will get parametric smoothness wherever there is geometric
smoothness. In the irregular triangle mesh setting there is a priori
no such “obvious” parameterization. In this case using a uniformity assumption leads to parametric non-smoothness with undesirable consequences for further processing. One approach to remedy
this situation is the use of remeshing [8, 19], which maintains the
original geometric smoothness, but improves the sampling to vary
smoothly. This enables subsequent treatment with a uniform parameter assumption without detrimental effects. Here we wish to
build tools which work on the original meshes directly.
To understand the role of the parameterization further, consider
traditional subdivision [22], such as Loop or Catmull-Clark. In the
signal processing context, subdivision can be seen as upsampling
followed by filtering. One starts with an arbitrary connectivity mesh
and uses regular upsampling techniques such as triangle quadrisection to obtain a semi-regular triangulation. The subdivision weights
depend only on connectivity, not geometry. Such stencils can be designed with existing Fourier or spectral techniques. These schemes
result in geometrically smooth limit surfaces with smooth semiuniform parameterizations. Because traditional subdivision is only
concerned with refinement one has the freedom to choose regular
upsampling, and semi-uniform schemes suffice.
The picture changes entirely if we wish to compute a mesh pyramid, i.e., we want to be able to coarsify a given fine irregular mesh
and later refine it again. We then need to filter, downsample, upsample and filter again. The downsampling typically involves a
standard mesh simplification hierarchy. When subdividing back,
we want to build a mesh with the same connectivity as the original
mesh and a smooth geometry. This time the upsampling procedure
is determined by reversing the previously computed simplification
hierarchy. We no longer have a choice as in the classical subdivision
setting. Consequently the filters used before downsampling and after upsampling should use non-uniform weights, which depend on
the local parameterization. The challenge is to ensure that these local parameterizations are smooth so that subsequent algorithms act
on the geometry and not some potentially bad parameterization.
1.1 Contributions
In this paper we present a series of non-uniform signal processing algorithms designed for irregular triangulations and show their
usefulness in several application areas. Specifically, we make the
following contributions:
• We show how the non-uniform subdivision algorithm of
Guskov [12] can be used for geometric smoothing of triangle
meshes. Our scheme is fast, local, and straightforward to implement.
• We use the smoothing algorithm combined with existing hierarchy methods to build subdivision, pyramid, and wavelet algorithms for irregular connectivity meshes.
• We show how these signal processing algorithms can be used in
applications such as smoothing, enhancement, editing, animation, and texture mapping.
1.2 Related Work
In our approach we draw on observations made by researchers in
several different areas. These include classical subdivision [22],
which we generalize to the irregular setting with the help of mesh
simplification [13] and careful attention to the role of smooth parameterizations. Parameterizations were examined in the context of
remeshing [19, 8, 9], texture mapping (e.g., [20]), and variational
modeling [16, 28, 21]. One area which employs these elements is
hierarchical editing for semi-regular [29] and irregular meshes [18].
Signal processing as an approach to surface fairing in the irregular setting was first considered by Taubin [26, 27]. He defines
frequencies as the eigenvectors of a discrete Laplacian generalized to irregular triangulations. The resulting smoothing schemes
were used to denoise meshes, apply smooth deformations, and build
semi-uniform subdivision over irregular meshes. Our approach is
related to Taubin’s and can be seen as a generalization to the nonuniform setting. In particular we build a smoothing method by minimizing multivariate finite differences. Together with progressive
mesh simplification [14] we use these to define a non-uniform subdivision scheme and pyramid algorithm on top of an irregular mesh
Progressive meshes and a semi-uniform discrete Laplacian were
used by Kobbelt et al. [18] to perform multiresolution editing on
irregular meshes. Given some region of the mesh, discrete fairing
is used to compute a smoothed version with the same connectivity. This smoothed region is deformed and offsets to the original
mesh are added back in. Kobbelt discusses the issue of geometric vs. parametric smoothing. Smoothing of irregular meshes based
on uniform approximations of the Laplacian results in vertex motion “within” the surface, even in a perfectly planar triangulation.
It is geometrically smooth, yet the parameter functions appear nonsmooth due to a non-uniform parameterization. This has undesirable effects in a hierarchical setting in which fine levels are defined as offsets (“details”) from a coarse level: using the difference
between topologically corresponding vertices in the original and
smoothed mesh can lead to large detail vectors [18, Figure 4]. To
minimize the size of detail vectors they employed a search procedure to find the nearest vertex on the smoothed mesh to a given vertex on the original mesh. This diminishes the advantage of having a
smoothed version with the exact same connectivity. In contrast, our
non-uniform smoothing scheme affects only geometric smoothness
and so does not need a search procedure. We will present two ways
in which our scheme can be used for editing: one is based on multiresolution and combines the work of Kobbelt et al. [18] with the
ideas of Zorin et al. [29]. The other method relies on defining vector displacement fields with controllable decay similar to the ideas
presented in the work of Singh and Fiume [23].
We construct our subdivision scheme by designing a nonuniform relaxation operator which minimizes second differences.
This is motivated by the smoothness analysis of the 1D irregular
setting [2]. This analysis relies on the decay of divided differences, carefully designed to respect the underlying parameterization. These ideas were extended to the multi-variate setting in [12]
and we employ them here. While the schemes we present have
many nice properties and work very well in practice, we note that
their analytic smoothness is currently unknown.
and faces f = {i, j, k} ∈ F, so that K = V ∪ E ∪ F. Two vertices i and j are neighbors if {i, j} ∈ E. The 1-ring neighbors of
a vertex i form a set V1 (i) = {j | {i, j} ∈ E} (see Figure 2, left).
Ki = #V1 (i) is the degree of i. The edges from i to its neighbors
form a set E1 (i) = {{i, j} | j ∈ V1 (i)}. A 1-ring neighborhood
with flaps is shown in Figure 2 (middle). Its vertices except the center vertex form a set V2 (i) and its interior edges form a set E2 (i).
Finally, the neighborhood ω(e) of an edge (see Figure 2) is formed
by the 4 vertices of its incident triangles.
The geometric realization ϕ(s) of a simplex s is defined as the
strictly convex hull of the points pi with i ∈ s. The polyhedron
ϕ(K) is defined as ∪s∈K ϕ(s) and consists of points, segments, and
triangles in R3 .
2 Signal Processing Algorithms
Our relaxation algorithm relies on minimizing divided differences.
In the one dimensional setting divided differences are straightforward to define, but for multivariate settings many approaches are
possible (see for example [10, 4, 3]). An approach that was developed specifically with subdivision in mind is described in [12] and
we use it here for our purposes.
Consider a face f = {i, j, k} and the triangle t = ϕ(f ) where
pi = (ui , vi , gi ). Then the first order divided difference of g at f
is simply the gradient of the piecewise linear spline interpolating
g denoted by ∇f g = (∂g/∂u, ∂g/∂v). Note that the gradient
depends on the parameter locations (ui , vi ) and converges in the
limit to the first partial derivatives. If we create a three vector by
adding a third component equal to 1, we obtain the normal nf =
(−∂g/∂u, −∂g/∂v, 1) to the triangle t. Conversely, the gradient is
the projection of the normal in the parameter plane. Consequently
the gradient is zero only if the triangle t is horizontal (gi = gj =
gk ).
Second order differences are defined as the difference between
two normals on neighboring triangles and can be associated with
the common edge (see Figure 3, left). Consider an edge e = {j, k}
with its two incident faces f1 = {j, k, l1 } and f2 = {j, k, l2 }
(see Figure 2, right). Compute the difference between the two normals me = nf2 − nf1 . Given that the two normals are orthogonal
to ϕ(e) so is their difference me (see Figure 3, right). But the
third component of me is zero, hence me itself lies in the parameter plane, which also contains the segment between (uj , vj , 0) and
(uk , vk , 0). This implies that me is orthogonal to the segment and
hence only its signed magnitude matters (see Figure 3).
Before describing the actual numerical algorithms we begin with
some remarks regarding different settings and establish our notation
for triangulations and difference operators defined on them.
Coordinate Functions To describe our algorithms we must
distinguish between two settings: the functional and the surface
setting. The functional setting deals with a function g(u, v) of
two independent variables in the plane. The dependent variable
g can be visualized as height above the (u, v) parameter plane. In
practice we only have discrete data gi = g(ui , vi ). The sample
points (ui , vi ) are triangulated in the plane and this connectivity
can be transferred to the corresponding points (ui , vi , gi ) in R3 .
The canonical example of this is a terrain model.
The surface setting deals with a triangle mesh of arbitrary
topology and connectivity embedded in R3 with vertices pi =
(xi , yi , zi ). It is important to treat all three coordinates x, y, and z
as dependent variables with independent parameters u and v, giving us three functional settings. The independent parameters are
typically unknown and must be estimated. Algorithms to estimate
global smooth parameterizations are described in [19, 8, 9, 20]. We
require only local parameterizations which are consistent over the
support of a small filter stencil.
Triangulations To talk about local neighborhoods of vertices
within the mesh it is convenient to describe the topological and
geometric aspects of a mesh separately. We use notation inspired
by [24]. A triangle mesh is denoted as a pair (P, K), where P is a
set of N point positions P = {pi ∈ R3 | 1 ≤ i ≤ N} (either pi =
(ui , vi , fi ) in a functional setting or pi = (xi , yi , zi ) in the surface
setting), and K is an abstract simplicial complex which contains all
the topological, i.e., adjacency information. The complex K is a set
of subsets of {1, . . . , N}. These subsets are called simplices and
come in three types: vertices v = {i} ∈ V, edges e = {i, j} ∈ E,
2.1 Divided Differences in the Functional Setting
plane contains both normals
and their difference;
plane is orthogonal
to 3D segment
triangle normals
common segment
in 3D
parameter plane
difference of normals lies in parameter plane
Figure 2: Left: 1-ring neighborhood. The vertices except the center
one form V1 (i) and the bold edges form E1 (i). Middle: 1-ring with
flaps. The vertices except the center one form V2 (i) and the bold
edges form E2 (i). Right: Edge neighborhood. The four vertices of
the incident triangles form ω(e).
Figure 3: In the functional setting triangles are erected over the
parameter plane. Their normals generate a plane orthogonal to
the edge in 3-space. Any vector in that plane which is also in the
parameter plane must be at right angles with the parameter plane
segment. Hence De2 is orthogonal to (uj , vj ) − (uk , vk ).
This argument justifies defining the second order difference De2 g
as the component of me orthogonal to the segment in the parameter plane. De2 g depends on four function values at vertices
ω(e) = {j, k, l1 , l2 }. Since all operations to compute De2 g are linear (gradient, difference, and projection) so is the entire expression
De2 g =
ce,l gl .
The coefficients are given by
A[l1 ,k,j]
ce,l1 =
Le A[k,l2 ,l1 ]
A[l1 ,k,j] A[l2 ,j,k]
A[l2 ,j,k]
ce,l2 =
2.3 Relaxation in the Surface Setting
Le A[j,l1 ,l2 ]
, (1)
A[l1 ,k,j] A[l2 ,j,k]
where A[k1 ,k2 ,k3 ] is the signed area of the triangle formed by
(uk1 , vk1 ), (uk2 , vk2 ), (uk3 , vk3 ); and Le is the length of the segment between (uj , vj ) and (uk , vk ) [12]. All the parameterization
information is captured in the edge length and signed triangle areas.
Given that we later only use squares of De2 the actual sign of the areas is not important as long as the orientations prescribed by (1) are
consistent. Also, note that the second order difference operator is
zero only if the two triangles lie in the same plane.
2.2 Relaxation in the Functional Setting
The central ingredient in our signal processing toolbox is a nonuniform relaxation operator. It generalizes the usual notion of a
low pass filter. We begin by discussing the construction of such a
relaxation operator in the functional setting.
The purpose of the relaxation operation is the minimization of
second order differences. To this end we define a quadratic energy,
which is an instance of a discrete fairing functional [16]
The relaxation is computed locally, i.e., for a given vertex i we compute a relaxed function value Rgi based on neighboring function
values gj . Treating E as a function of a given gi the relaxed value
Rgi is defined as the minimizer of E(gi ). Given that the stencil for
De2 consists of two triangles, all edges which affect E(gi ) belong
to E2 (i) (see Figure 2, middle)
e∈E2 (i)
(De2 g)2 .
Since the functional is quadratic the relaxation operator is linear in
the function values. To find the expression, write each of the De2 g
with e ∈ E2 (i), i.e., all second differences depending on gi , as a
linear function of gi
De2 g = ce,i gi + αe with αe =
c g.
l∈ω(e) \ {i} e,l l
Setting the partial derivative of E with respect to gi equal to zero
Rgi = −
which can be rewritten as
Rgi =
j∈V2 (i)
wi,j gj , wi,j = −
c2 ,
e∈E2 (i) e,i
c α /
e∈E2 (i) e,i e
To apply the above relaxation in the surface setting we need to have
parameter values (u, v) associated with every point in our mesh.
Typically such parameter values are not available and we must compute them. One possible solution is to compute a global parameterization to a coarse base domain using approaches such as those
described in [8, 19]. However, specifying parameter values for an
entire region is equivalent to flattening that region and thus invariably introduces distortion. Therefore we wish to keep the parameter regions as small as possible. Typically one computes parameter
values for a certain local neighborhood like a 1-ring. We propose
an even more local scheme in which parameter values are specified
separately for each of the De2 stencils. The two triangles of the De2
stencil get flattened with the so-called hinge map: using the common edge as a hinge, rotate one triangle until it lies in the plane
defined by the other triangle and compute the needed edge lengths
and areas from (1). Note that the hinge map leaves the areas of
the triangles ϕ(f1 ) and ϕ(f2 ) unchanged and only affects the faces
{j, k, l1 } and {j, k, l2 }. The surface relaxation operator is defined
as before, but acts on points in R3
Rpi =
(De2 g)2 .
Rgi = arg min E(gi ) = arg min
Note that if g is a linear function, i.e., all triangles lie in one
plane, the fairing functional E is zero. Consequently linear functions are invariant under R. In particular R preserves constants
from which we deduce that the wi,j sum to one.
To summarize, given an arbitrary but fixed triangulation in the
parameter plane and function values gi with the associated (ui , vi )
coordinates, simple linear expressions describe first and second differences. The coefficients of these expressions depend on the parameterization. The relaxation operator R acts on individual function values to minimize the discrete second difference energy over
the E2 (i) neighborhood of a given pi = (ui , vi , gi ), leaving linears
ce,i ce,j
{e∈E2 (i)|j∈ω(e)}
e∈E2 (i) e,i
There are two ways to implement R which trade off speed versus
memory. One can either precompute and store the wi,j and use the
above expression or one can use (3) and compute R on the fly.
j∈V2 (i)
wi,j pj .
Our minimization is similar to minimizing dihedral angles [21].
However, minimizing exact dihedral angles is difficult as the expressions depend non-linearly on the points. Instead one can think
of the De2 as a linear expression which behaves like the dihedral
Features With our scheme it is particularly easy to deal with
features in the mesh. Examples include sharp edges across which
one does not wish to smooth. In that case the De2 associated with
those edges are simply removed from the functional.
One may worry what happens with the equations in (1) in case
one of the triangles is degenerate, i.e., two of its points coincide and
its area is zero. Then the De2 that use this triangle are not defined
and simply can be left out from the optimization. This is similar to
coinciding knots in the case of splines.
Comparison with Existing Schemes The approach followed in [18] is to assume that the 1-ring neighborhood of a vertex
i is parameterized over a regular Ki -gon. Using this approximation
a discrete Laplacian, dubbed umbrella, is computed as
Lpi = Ki−1
j∈V1 (i)
pj − pi .
This discrete Laplacian was used in a relaxation operator R = I +L
which replaces a vertex with the average of its 1-ring neighbors.
In our setting, we can build a 1-ring relaxation scheme by only
taking the minimum in (2) over E1 (i). The relaxation operator is
then computed as in (3) with summations over E1 (i) rather than
E2 (i). Our 1-ring scheme parameterized on a regular Ki -gon leads
to the same relaxation operator as used by Kobbelt. Our scheme can
thus be seen as a natural non-uniform generalization of the umbrella
which is still linear. In general we use the E2 (i) (1-ring with flaps)
scheme as it yields visually smoother surfaces.
Taubin [26] presents a two step relaxation operator R = (I +
µL)(I + λL), with µ and λ tuned to minimize shrinkage of the
Both of these schemes are semi-uniform filters since the weights
only depend on Ki and not the geometry. Consequently they affect
both geometry and parameterization. Consider again an irregular
triangulation of a plane. Semi-uniform schemes try to make each 1ring look as much as possible like a regular K-gon. Thus the triangulation may change globally while the plane remains the same. As
we will see, this will lead to unwanted effects in applications such
as editing and texture mapping. On the other hand our non-uniform
scheme is linearly invariant, leaves the triangles unchanged, and
does not suffer from the problems concerning movement “inside”
the surface observed in [18, Figure 4].
Figure 4 shows the effect on a non-planar triangulation like
the eye of the mannequin head. Our non-uniform scheme (right)
smoothes the geometry without affecting the triangle shapes much.
The semi-uniform scheme (middle) tries to make edge lengths as
uniform as possible which can only be done by effectively destroying the delicate mesh structure around the eye. This effect also
applies to any other attributes that vertices may carry such as detail
vectors for editing or texture map coordinates causing distortion
during smoothing (see Figure 8).
Taubin [26] also uses a non-uniform discrete Laplacian in which
the weights vary as the powers of the respective edge lengths. While
such an operator can greatly reduce the triangle distortions, it can
be shown that such a scheme can never be linearly invariant.
(Q(n) , K(n) ) where the points on coarser meshes do move from
their finest mesh position. These are denoted qi , i ≤ n.
In traditional signal processing, downsampling creates a coarser
level through the removal of a constant fraction of samples. This
leads to a logarithmic number of levels. A PM does not have such
a notion of levels. However, one may think of each removed vertex
as living on its own level, and the number of levels being linear.
3.1 Subdivision
Subdivision starts from a coarse mesh and successively builds finer
and smoother versions [22]. In signal processing terms it consists of
upsampling followed by relaxation. So far the word subdivision has
been associated in the literature with either regular or semi-regular
meshes with corresponding uniform or semi-uniform operators. If
one only has an original, coarse mesh and cares about building a
smooth version, then semi-regular is the correct approach.
Our setting is different. The coarse mesh comes from a PM
started at the original, finest level. Hence the connectivity of the
finer levels is fixed and determined by the reverse PM. Our goal
is to use non-uniform subdivision to build a geometrically smooth
mesh with the same connectivity as the original mesh and with as
little triangle shape distortion as possible. Such smoothed meshes
can subsequently be used to build pyramid algorithms.
Subdivision is computed one level at a time starting from level
n0 in the progressive mesh Q(n0 ) = P (n0 ) . Since the reverse PM
adds one vertex per level, our non-uniform subdivision is computed
one vertex at a time. We denote the vertex positions as Q(n) =
{qi | 1 ≤ i ≤ n} (n ≥ n0 ) and use meshes (Q(n) , K(n) ) with
the same connectivity as the PM meshes.
Going from Q(n−1) to Q(n) involves three groups of vertices. (I)
the new vertex n, which is introduced together with a point position
qn to be computed. (II) certain points from the Q(n−1) mesh
change position; these correspond to even vertices. There is only a
small number of them. (III) the remainder of the points of Q(n−1) ,
typically the majority, remains unchanged. Specifically:
Figure 4: Smoothing of the eye (left) with our non-uniform (right)
and a semi-uniform scheme (middle). The semi-uniform scheme
tries to make edge lengths as uniform as possible and severely distorts the geometry, while the non-uniform scheme only smoothes the
geometry and does not affect the triangle shapes much.
3 Multiresolution Signal Processing
Up to this point we have only considered operators which act on a
scale comparable to their small finite support. To build more powerful signal processing tools we now consider a multiresolution setting.
Multiresolution algorithms such as subdivision, pyramids, and
wavelets require decimation and upsampling procedures. For images decimation comes down to removing every other row or column. The situation for meshes is more complex, but a considerable
body of work is available [13].
We employ Hoppe’s Progressive Mesh (PM) approach [14]. In
the PM setting, an edge collapse provides the atomic decimation
step, while a vertex split becomes the atomic upsampling step. For
simplicity we only employ half-edge collapses in our implementation. As a priority criterion we use a combination of the GarlandHeckbert quadric error metric [11] and edge length to favor removal
of long edges (see also [17]).
Each half edge collapse removes one vertex and we number them
in reverse so that the one with highest index gets removed first.
This gives a sequence of N meshes (P n , Kn ), 1 ≤ n ≤ N, and
P n = {pi | 1 ≤ i ≤ n}. Later we will consider mesh sequences
• The new position qn is computed after upsampling from Kn−1
to Kn :
(n) (n−1)
qn(n) = j∈V n (j) wn,j qj
The position of the new vertex is computed to satisfy the relaxation operator using points from Qn−1 with weights using areas
and lengths of mesh (P n , K(n) ).
• The even points of Qn−1 form a 1-ring neighborhood of n.
Their respective V2n neighborhoods contain n, which has just
received an updated position qn
∀j ∈ V1n (n) : qj
(n) (n−1)
k∈V2n (j) \{n}
wj,k qk
(n) (n)
+wj,n qn .
The even vertices are relaxed using the point positions
from Q(n−1) (except for qn ), using weights coming from
(P , K ).
• Finally, the remainder of the positions do not change
∀j ∈ V n−1 \V1n (n) : qj
= qj
A central ingredient in our construction is the fact that the weights
wi,j depend on parameter information from the mesh P (n) . No
globally or even locally consistent parameterization is required. For
each De2 stencil we use the hinge map as described above. In effect
the original mesh provides the parameterizations and in this way
enters into the subdivision procedure. The actual areas and lengths,
which make up the expressions for wi,j are assembled based on the
connectivity K(n) of level n, and hence induce the level dependence
of the weights. As a result all wi,j may be precomputed during the
PM construction and can be stored if desired for later use during
repeated subdivision.
P It is easy to see that the storage is linear in
the total degree, i Ki , of the mesh.
s -q
Figure 6: Burt-Adelson style pyramid scheme.
stages: presmoothing, downsampling, subdivision, and computation of details.
• Presmoothing: Presmoothing in the original BA pyramid is important to avoid aliasing. We have found that in a PM the presmoothing step can often be omitted because the downsampling
steps (edge collapses) are chosen carefully, depending heavily
on the data. In essence vertices are removed mostly in smooth
regions, where presmoothing does not make a big difference.
Thus, no presmoothing was used in our implementation.
• Downsampling: n is removed in a half-edge collapse.
• Subdivision: Using the points from S n−1 we compute subdi(n)
vided points qj for the vertex just removed and the surrounding even vertices exactly as described in Section 3.1
Figure 5: Starting with the irregular triangulation of a sphere (upper left) we compute a PM down to 16 triangles (upper right). We
then compute our non-uniform subdivision scheme back to the finest
level (lower left) and obtain a smooth mesh which approximates the
original. For comparison the lower right shows the limit surface of
a semi-uniform subdivision scheme.
To illustrate the behavior of uniform functional subdivision
schemes one considers the so called scaling function or fundamental solution obtained from starting with a Kronecker sequence on
the coarsest level. For surface subdivision, there is no equivalent to
this. To illustrate the behavior of the surface scheme we perform
the following experiment (see Figure 5). We start with an irregular
triangulation of a sphere with 12000 triangles (upper left) and compute a PM down to 16 triangles (upper right). Next the non-uniform
surface subdivision scheme starting from the 16 triangles back to
the original mesh is computed (lower left). We clearly get a smooth
mesh. For comparison the lower right shows the limit function using a semi-uniform scheme. It is important to understand that the
non-uniform scheme has access to the parameterization information
of the original finest mesh whereas the semi-uniform scheme does
not use this additional information.
While for uniform and semi-uniform subdivision, extensive literature on regularity of limit functions exists, few results are known
for non-uniform subdivision [2, 12]. The goal of our strategy of
minimizing De2 is to obtain C 1 smoothness. However, there is currently no regularity result for our scheme in either the functional or
surface setting.
3.2 Burt-Adelson Pyramid
The pyramid proposed by Burt and Adelson [1] (BA) is another
important signal processing tool. We show how to generalize it to
a mesh pyramid. We start from the finest level points S N = P and
compute a sequence of meshes (S n , Kn ) (1 ≤ n ≤ N) as well as
oversampled differences di between levels.
, i.e., to remove vertex n, we follow the
To go from S to S
diagram in Figure 6. The top wire represents the points of S n−1
while the bottom wire represent the points of S n . There are four
• Detail Computation: Finally, detail values are computed for
all even vertices as well as the vertex n. These detail vectors are
which depends on the coarser
expressed in a local frame Fj
∀j ∈ V1n (n) ∪ {n} : dj
= Fj
− qj ).
We refer to the entire group of dj as an array d(n) . In the
implementation this array is stored with n.
One of the features of the BA pyramid is that the above procedure
can always be inverted independent of which presmoothing operator or subdivision scheme is used. For reconstruction, we start with
the points of S n−1 , subdivide values qj for both the new and even
vertices and add in the details to recover the original values sj .
To see the potential of a mesh pyramid in applications it is important to understand that the details d(n) can be seen as an approximate frequency spectrum of the mesh. The details d(n) with large
n come from edge collapses on the finer levels and thus correspond
to small scales and high frequencies, while the details d(n) with
small n come from edge collapses on the coarser levels and thus
correspond to large scales and low frequencies.
Oversampling factor A standard image pyramid has an oversampling factor of 4/3, while we have an expected oversampling
factor of 7. The advantage of oversampling is that the details are
quite small and lead to natural editing behavior [29]. If needed, a
technique exists to reduce the oversampling factor. The idea is to
use levels with more than one vertex. Say, we divide the N vertices
of V into M levels with M N:
V = V0 ∪
Wm and Vm = Vm−1 ∪ Wm .
This can be done, for example, so that the sizes of the Vm grow
with a constant factor [7]. The BA pyramid then goes from Vm
to Vm−1 . First presmooth all even vertices in Vm , then compute
subdivided values for all vertices in Wm and their 1-ring neighbors
in Vm . For the subdivided points, which need not be all vertices
of Vm , compute the details as differences with the original values
from Vm . One can see that the above algorithm with oversampling
factor 7 is a special case when Wm = {m}. The other extreme
is the case with only one level containing all vertices. In that case
there is no multiresolution as all details live on the same level. The
oversampling factor is 1. By choosing the levels appropriately one
can obtain any oversampling between 1 and 7. It is theoretically
possible to build a wavelet-like, i.e, critically sampled multiresolution transform based on the Lifting scheme [25]. However, at this
point it is not clear how to design filters that make the transform
Caveat Often in this paper we use signal processing terminology
such as frequency, low pass filter, aliasing, to describe operations on
2-manifolds. One has to be extremely careful with this and keep in
mind that unlike in the Euclidean setting, there is no formal definition of these terms in the manifold setting. For example in a
mesh the notion of a DC component strictly does not exist. Also in
connection with the pyramid we often talk about frequency bands.
Again one has to be careful as even in the Euclidean setting the coefficients in a a pyramid do not represent exact frequencies due to
the Heisenberg uncertainty principle.
4 Applications
The algorithms we described above provide a powerful signal processing toolbox. In this section we demonstrate this claim by considering a variety of applications that use them. These include
smoothing and filtering, enhancement, texture coordinate generation, vector displacement field editing, and multiresolution editing.
4.1 Smoothing and Filtering
One way to smooth a mesh is through repeated application of the
relaxation operator R. Numerically this behaves similarly to traditional Jacobi iterations for an elliptic PDE solver. The relaxation
rapidly attenuates the highest frequencies in the mesh, but has little
impact on low frequencies. Even though each iteration of the operator is linear in the number of vertices, the number of iterations to
attenuate a fixed frequency band grows linearly with the mesh size.
This results in quadratically increasing run times as the sample density increases relative to a fixed geometric scale. One way to combat
this behavior is through the use of appropriate preconditioners, as
was done in [18], or through the use of implicit solvers [6].
Using a mesh pyramid we can build much more direct and flexible filtering operations. Recall that the details in a pyramid measure
the local deviation from smoothness at different scales. In that sense
they capture the local frequency content of the mesh. This spectrum
can be shaped arbitrarily by scaling particular details. Multiresolution filtering operators are built by setting certain ranges of detail
coefficients in the pyramid to zero. A low pass filter sets all detail
arrays d(n) with n > nl to zero, while a high pass filter annihilates
d(n) for n < nh . However, for meshes it makes little sense to put
the coarsest details to zero as this would collapse the mesh. More
natural for meshes are stopband filters which zero out detail arrays
d(n) in some intermediate range, nl < n < nh .
Figure 7 shows these procedures applied to the venus head
(N = 50000). On the upper left the original mesh. The upper right
shows the result of applying the non-uniform relaxation operator
20 times at the finest level. High frequency ripples quickly diffuse,
but no attenuation is noticeable at larger length scales. The bottom
left shows the result of a low pass filter which sets all details above
nl = 1000 to zero. Finally the bottom right shows the result of a
stopband filter, annihilating all details 1000 < n < 15000. Note
how the last mesh keeps its fine level details, while intermediate
frequencies were attenuated. If desired all these filtering operations
can be performed in a spatially varying manner due to the spacefrequency localization of the mesh pyramid. Figure 8 shows the
difference between non-uniform (left) and semi-uniform smoothing
(right) on the actual vertex positions. By keeping the original finest
level texture coordinates for the vertices of both meshes we can
Figure 7: Smoothing and filtering of the venus head. Original on
the top left; 20 finest level relaxation steps on the top right; low
pass filter on the bottom left; stopband filter on the bottom right.
visualize the effect of movement “within” the surface after smoothing. This hints at another application: if one has a scanned mesh
with color (r,g,b) attributes per vertex then non-uniform geometry
smoothing will not distort those colors.
4.2 Enhancement
Enhancement provides the opposite operation to smoothing in that
it emphasizes certain frequency ranges. As before this can be done
in a single resolution manner as well as in the more flexible multiresolution setup.
The single resolution scheme is easy to compute and typically
works best for fairly small meshes, such as those used as control
polyhedra for splines or semi-regular subdivision surfaces. The
main idea is to extrapolate the difference between the original mesh
and a single resolution relaxed mesh. The enhanced points are given
Epi = pi + ξ(Rk pi − pi ),
where ξ > 1. Figure 9 illustrates the procedure. On the left the
original mannequin head, in the middle the result after 20 relaxation steps, and on the right the enhanced version with ξ = 2. The
first and last models of Figure 1 show the Loop subdivided meshes
of the original and enhanced head. By using combinations of the
different algorithms peculiar effects can be obtained. The second
Figure 10: Enhancement of cow head (original on the left).
Figure 8: Movement “within” the surface due to smoothing visualized by letting the vertices keep their original finest level texture
coordinates. Left non-uniform smoothing and right semi-uniform
Figure 11: Enhancement on the bunny. The original is on the left
and the frequency enhanced version on the right.
4.3 Subdivision of Scalar Functions on Manifolds
Figure 9: Enhancement of control mesh. On the left the original, in
the middle the smoothed mesh, and on the right the enhanced mesh
(see also Figure 1 for the resulting subdivision surfaces).
model in Figure 1 is obtained by extrapolating from a base model
built by 5 semi-uniform relaxation steps followed by 5 non-uniform
relaxation steps (needed to recover the parameterization and “pull”
features back in place). The third model in Figure 1 is extrapolated
from a base built by first simplifying to level 100, then applying 1
relaxation step (which made the chin collapse and ears shrink), and
The single level scheme is simple and easy to compute, but limited in its use. For example, it does not compute offsets with respect
to local frames. If the mesh contains fine level detail self intersections quickly appear. As in image enhancement one must be careful
not to amplify high frequency noise. For these reasons we need the
more flexible setup of multiresolution enhancement. The approach
is simple, we compute a mesh pyramid, scale the desired details and
then reconstruct. As in the filtering application, the user has control
over the different frequency bands. Additionally, the local frames
across the many levels of the mesh pyramid tend to stabilize the
procedure and lead to a more natural behavior. As a result the multiresolution enhancement scheme deals better with large scanned
meshes which usually contain high frequency noise.
Figure 10 shows Loop subdivided versions of the original cow
head and an enhanced version obtained by multiplying the details
d(n) with 257 < n ≤ 2904 = N by two (see also Figure 15,
right column for an edit of the enhanced model). Finally, Figure 11
shows enhancement on the Stanford bunny (N = 34835). Here
details with indices 1000 < n < 7000 were multiplied by 2, and
details with indices 7000 < n < 13000 were multiplied by 1.5.
We can use subdivision to quickly build smooth scalar functions
defined on a manifold. Simply start with scalar values on a coarse
level and use non-uniform subdivision to build a smooth function
defined on the finest level.
We present two applications. The first creates smoothly varying
texture coordinate assignments for the finest level mesh from some
user supplied texture coordinate assignments at a coarse level. The
second creates a smoothly varying function over a limited region of
an irregular mesh and then uses this function to generate a smooth
vector displacement field for shape editing purposes.
Texture Coordinate Generation DeRose et al. [5] discuss
this problem in the context of classical, semi-uniform subdivision.
Their goal was the construction of smooth texture coordinates for
Catmull-Clark surfaces. Beginning with user supplied texture coordinates at some coarse level they subdivide these parameter assignments to the finest subdivision level using the same subdivision
operator for texture coordinates as for the vertices.
Figure 12 shows the application of this idea to our setting. Initial texture coordinate assignments were made using a cylindrical
projection of all vertices in P 1000 . The left image shows a test texture on the coarse polygonal mesh. We then reconstruct the original
finest level mesh and concurrently subdivide the texture coordinates
to the finest level. The resulting mapping is shown on the right.
Even though the geometry has much geometric detail and uneven
triangle sizes the final texture coordinates vary smoothly over the
entire surface.
Displacement Vector Field Editing Singh and Fiume [23]
present an algorithm for deformation edits based on vector displacement fields. These fields are defined through a smooth falloff function around a “wire” which drags the surface along. The region of
influence is a function of distance in R3 . Controlling this behavior
in regions of high curvature or in the vicinity of multiple close objects can be tricky. In our setting we have the opportunity to define
the falloff function only on the surface itself. A similar idea was
used in [15] for feature editing.
Figure 12: A test texture is mapped to a coarse level of the mesh
pyramid under user control. The resulting texture coordinates are
then subdivided to the finest level and the result shown on the right.
We illustrate this idea with an example. Consider the horse to
“giraffe” edit in Figure 13. The user first outlines three regions
by drawing closed curves on the mesh. A region that remains unchanged (A); a region that will be gradually stretched (B); and a
region that will undergo a translation (C). In our example, region
(A) is the back body and the four legs; (B) are the neck and torso;
and (C) is the head. The boundary between (A) and (B) consists
of three closed curves. Next we define a scalar parameter θ, which
is 0 on the boundary between (A) and (B), and 1 on the boundary
between (B) and (C). The algorithm computes values for θ that vary
smoothly between 0 and 1 in region (B).
This is accomplished by running a PM on the interior of region
(B) to a maximally coarse level. Then the initial value θ = 1/2
is assigned to all interior vertices of the coarse region (B). Next
we apply relaxation to θ on the coarsest level within (B). This converges quickly because there are few triangles; three steps suffice.
These θ values are then used as the starting values for subdivision
from the coarsest level back to the original region (B) while keeping
the θ values on the boundary fixed. The resulting θ values on the
finest region (B) vary smoothly between 0 and 1. The only problem is that at the boundary they meet in a C 0 and not a C 1 fashion.
This is because we only imposed Dirichlet like conditions and no
Neumann condition. We address this with the following smoothing
transformation, θ := 1/2 − 1/2 cos(πθ).
On the left of Figure 13 the red lines are specified by the user
and the black lines show the θ isolines, visualizing how θ varies
smoothly. The edit is now done by letting the user drag the head.
Every vertex in region B is subjected to θ times the displacement
vector of the head. This requires very little computation. The right
side of Figure 13 shows the result.
4.4 Multiresolution Editing
The displacement vector editing is simple and fast, but has limited
use. We next discuss full fledged multiresolution editing for irregular meshes. Our algorithm combines ideas of Zorin et al. [29] and
Kobbelt et al. [18]. The former used multiresolution details and
semi-regular meshes, while the latter used single resolution details
and irregular meshes. We combine the best of both approaches by
using multiresolution details with the irregular mesh setting.
The algorithm is straightforward. The user can manipulate a
group of points si in the mesh pyramid and the system adds
the finer level details back in. This is exactly the same use of the
pyramid as Zorin et al. only now for irregular meshes. Kobbelt et
al. used a multiresolution/multigrid approach to define a smoothed
mesh over a user selected region, but then compute single resolution
details between the original and smoothed mesh.
Figure 13: Horse to giraffe edit using a surface based smooth displacement vector field.
Figure 14: Cow leg editing sequence: original, coarsest scale, edit,
reconstruction with multiresolution details, reconstruction with single resolution details.
The use of multiresolution details is important when the user
wishes to make large scale edits in regions with complicated fine
scale geometry. Because the multiresolution details are all described in local frames, they have more flexibility to adjust themselves to a coarse scale edit.
We illustrate this with an edit on the leg of the cow (Figure 14).
The sequence shows the original leg, the coarse leg, a coarse edit,
and two reconstructions. The first used multiresolution details
while the second used single resolution details.
Finally, Figure 15 shows some additional edits. The horse was
edited at a level containing only 34 vertices (compare to the original shape shown in Figure 13). The cow edit on the right column
involves both manipulation at coarse levels (snout, horns, leg, tail)
and overall enhancement.
Size (fine)
Size (coarse)
Simpl. & Anal.
Timings (s)
Table 1: Timings for mesh pyramid computation assuming storage
rather then recomputation of all areas and length needed in stencil
weight computations. The size field counts the total vertices (N).
Face counts are generally twice as large. All times are given in
seconds on an SGI R10k O2 @175Mhz.
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Figure 15: Multiresolution edits.
5 Conclusions and Future Work
We have shown how basic signal processing tools such as up and
down sampling and filtering can be extended to irregular meshes.
These tools can be built into powerful algorithms such as subdivision and mesh pyramids. We have demonstrated their use in texturing, editing, smoothing and enhancement.
Further research can be pursued in several directions. On the algorithms side there is incorporation of various boundary conditions,
construction of positive weight schemes, and extensions to tetrahedralizations. On the applications side there is adaptive gridding for
time dependent PDE’s, computing globally smooth parameterizations, extracting texture maps from scanned textures, and spacefrequency morphing.
Compression Another potential future application is compression. However, one needs to be extremely careful: our subdivision
weights depend on the parameterization which in turn depends on
the geometry of the original mesh. Thus one cannot use the subdivision scheme as a predictor in a compression framework unless
sender and receiver share parameter information, i.e., the needed
areas and lengths to compute the subdivision. Only a setting where
one repeatedly has to communicate functions or attributes defined
over a fixed triangulation would justify this overhead.
This touches upon a deeper issue. In some sense for a geometrically smooth irregular mesh only one dimension can effectively
be predicted by a subdivision scheme. Even for a geometrically
smooth mesh, no subdivision scheme can compress the information implicitly present in the parameterization. Ideally for smooth
surfaces one would like to use meshes with as little parametric information as possible.
A typical example are semi-uniform meshes. This argument
strongly makes the case for resampling onto semi-regular meshes
using smooth parameterizations [8, 19] before compression.
Acknowledgments Igor Guskov was partially supported by
a Harold W. Dodds Fellowship and a Summer Internship at
Bell Laboratories, Lucent Technologies. Other support was provided by NSF (ACI-9624957, ACI-9721349, DMS-9874082),
Alias|wavefront and through a Packard Fellowship. Special thanks
to Ingrid Daubechies, Aaron Lee, Adam Finkelstein, Zoë Wood,
and Khrysaundt Koenig. Our implementation uses the triangle facet
data structure and code of Ernst Mücke, and the priority queue implementation by Michael Garland.
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