# An O(h ) Hermite approximation for conic sections ```2n
An O(h ) Hermite approximation
for conic sections
Michael Floater
SINTEF
P.O. Box 124, Blindern
0314 Oslo, NORWAY
November 1994, Revised March 1996
Abstract. Given a segment of a conic section in the form of a rational quadratic Bézier
curve and any positive odd integer n, a geometric Hermite interpolant, with 2n contacts,
counting multiplicity, is presented. This leads to a Gn−1 spline approximation having an
approximation order of O(h2n ). A bound on the Hausdorff error of the Hermite interpolant
is provided. Both the interpolation and error bound are extended to an important subclass
of rational biquadratic Bézier surfaces. For low n, the approximation provides a method for
converting the so-called analytic curves and surfaces used in CAGD to polynomial spline
form with very small error.
Keywords.
high order approximation, conic sections, splines
§1. Introduction
It was described in a recent paper , how one can approximate a conic section, in the
form of a rational quadratic Bézier curve r, by a quadratic spline having order of continuity
C 1 and G2 and order of approximation O(h4 ). Moreover an explicit error bound, having
the same convergence order, was constructed. The error bound provides a simple method
for converting conic sections and surfaces such as the sphere, torus, cone and cylinder to
The approximation method in  consists essentially of quadratic geometric Hermite
interpolation. In the present paper we present a geometric Hermite interpolant of any odd
degree n and an upper bound on the Hausdorff error. The interpolant has a total number
of 2n contacts with the conic; n − 1 at the end-points and 2 at the mid-point. It follows
from recent work by Degen  that the approximation order is O(h2n ), where h is the
maximum length of the parameter intervals, under recursive subdivision. Scherer  has
recently studied O(h2n ) approximations to general planar curves by polynomials of degree
n.
The spline approximation, formed by piecing together the sequence of Hermite interpolants, must have Gn−2 continuity since the order of contact at the end points is n − 2.
But if the conic is subdivided in the correct (symmetric) way, as in , the continuity of
the spline is raised to C 1 and Gn−1 , the latter meaning that the spline is C n−1 with respect
to arc length. Discussions of both arc length and Frenet frame geometric continuity are
given in Dyn & Micchelli  and Gregory .
Thus this paper serves two purposes; one practical and one theoretical.
1
(1) For small n such as three or five, the approximation provides a very efficient method
of converting analytic curves and surfaces to polynomial spline form.
(2) The interpolant shows that O(h2n ) Hermite interpolation for planar curves is possible
for arbitrarily high n.
The technique used to find the Hermite interpolant approximating the conic section
r is to use the implicit form of r, namely f (r) = 0, where f is the appropriate bivariate
quadratic polynomial. This idea was first introduced by Dokken et al.  in their construction of O(h6 ) cubic approximations to the circle. One finds an approximating curve
q for which f (q) is small. One then argues that if f (q) is small, then q is ‘close’ to r.
How do we construct q to make f (q) small? Lyche & Mørken  recently found that
for odd n there is a sequence of polynomial approximations in t to a circle at a point. The
n-th approximation consists mainly of a geometric series in t2 and is shown to be O(h2n ).
The fact that such a sequence exists was the inspiration for our construction of the twopoint (actually three-point) Hermite approximation q. We expand the denominator of r
as an asymptotic expansion in the variable a = w − 1, where w is the central weight in the
rational form of r, and add a correction term.
The fact that one can expand r in terms of a polynomial reveals the advantage of
working with the general conic section in rational Bézier form rather than with the specific
case of a circle. The cubic circle approximations in  involve trigonometric functions
rather than polynomials and this probably makes it difficult to generalise them to arbitrary degree. In the framework of the present paper, the conic section is regarded as a
generalisation of the parabola rather than the circle.
A bound on the Hausdorff distance between the approximant and the conic is found
in terms of the maximum of f (q) using the special form of f and its derivatives as a Bézier
triangle. At the same time it proved that for a large range of possible r’s — all the elliptic
cases and many of the hyperbolic ones — the curve q lies inside the convex hull of the
control polygon of r.
In a similar way, we can approximate surfaces which are tensor-products of conic
sections by tensor-product splines of degree n1 in one parameter and n2 in the other.
These have order of approximation O(h2n1 ) in the first parameter direction and O(h2n2 )
in the other. The orders of continuity are Gn1 −1 and Gn2 −1 respectively. Two numerical
examples, the approximation of a sphere and torus respectively, show how small the error
of the approximation is.
We have not derived in this paper a range on w for which q is a regular curve but
it is clear that when w is close enough to 1, this is certainly true and it follows that by
subdividing, the spline approximation is eventually guaranteed to be regular.
The paper is organised in the following way. The Hermite interpolant is presented in
Section 2 and at the end a brief derivation of the C 1 and Gn−1 continuity of the resulting
spline approximation is provided. The error bound is derived in Section 3. The interpolant
and error bound are extended to surfaces in Section 4 and numerical examples are discussed
in Section 5.
2
p
1
1
w>1
0
0
w=1
r
0
w<1
p
p
0
2
0
0
−2w 2
(p + p ) / 2
0
2
Fig. 1. The conic r in the cases 0<w<1, w=1 and w>1 and the Bézier points of f .
§2. The Hermite interpolant
We will approximate the rational quadratic Bézier curve
r(t) =
B0 (t)p0 + B1 (t)wp1 + B2 (t)p2
B0 (t) + B1 (t)w + B2 (t)
(1)
where p0 , p1 , p2 ∈ IR2 are the control points, w ∈ IR is the weight associated with p1 ,
assumed positive, B0 (t) = (1 − t)2 , B1 (t) = 2(1 − t)t, B2 (t) = t2 , are the Bernstein basis
functions, and t is in the range [0,1]. r is said to be in normal form and it is well known
that r is an ellipse when w < 1, a parabola when w = 1 and a hyperbola when w > 1; see
Farin . It will help to refer to the curve as r0 when w = 1. Figure 1 shows the various
possibilities. The quantity a = w − 1 can be thought of as a measure of the ‘rationality’
of r and will be used in the construction of a Hermite approximation.
Let ψ = ψ(t) = 2(1 − w)(1 − t)t so that we can write the denominator of r as 1 − ψ(t).
Note that ψ is small when w is close to 1. We can then express r in the more useful form
r(t) = J0 (t)p0 + J1 (t)p1 + J2 (t)p2 ,
where
J0 (t) =
and of course
that
P2
i=0
(1 − t)2
,
1 − ψ(t)
J1 (t) =
2w(1 − t)t
,
1 − ψ(t)
J2 (t) =
(2)
t2
,
1 − ψ(t)
(3)
Ji = 1. We also define m = (n − 1)/2. Recall from geometric series
m−1
X
ψi =
i=0
1 − ψm
.
1−ψ
For odd n, n ≥ 3, we shall show that the polynomial curve q, of degree n,
q(t) = K0 (t)p0 + K1 (t)p1 + K2 (t)p2
3
(4)
where
K0 (t) =(1 − t)2
m−1
X
i=0
K1 (t) = 2wt(1 − t)
K2 (t) =t
2
m−1
X
ψi +
m−1
X
ψi +
i=0
(1 − t) m
ψ ,
1+w
ψi +
i=0
w
ψm ,
1+w
(5)
t
ψm ,
1+w
is a geometric Hermite interpolant to r. Note that if w = 1, then ψ = 0 and q(t) = r(t) =
r0 (t). Note also that, for all w, q(0) = r(0) = p0 and q(1) = r(1) = p2 .
Why have we chosen q to have this particular form? Using the fact that one can write
the denominator of r in (1) as 1 − ψ(t), one can expand, for example, J0 (t) as a series in
ψ:
(1 − t)2
J0 (t) =
= (1 − t)2 (1 + ψ + ψ 2 + ψ 3 · · ·).
(1 − ψ)
So the first term of K0 (t) is a truncation of this series up to the term ψ m−1 . This is as
high as one can go without exceeding degree n = 2m + 1 since ψ has degree two. This
expansion makes the difference q(t) − r(t) small. The remaining terms in the Ki were
chosen in such a way that the Hausdorff distance between q and r is even smaller. We
regard these extra terms as ‘correction’ terms.
In what follows, we will need to consider the implicit form of a conic section. Any
point (x, y) ∈ IR2 can be written uniquely in terms of barycentric coordinates τ0 , τ1 , τ2 ,
where τ0 + τ1 + τ2 = 1, with respect to the triangle △p0 p1 p2 : (x, y) = τ0 p0 + τ1 p1 + τ2 p2 .
Consequently any function f : IR2 → IR can be expressed as a function of τ0 , τ1 , τ2 . The
following lemma is well known and is given, for example, in Farin . In fact it is immediate
from (2) and (3) since the Ji are barycentric coordinates for r and J12 (t)−4w2 J0 (t)J2 (t) = 0.
Lemma 2.2. Let f : IR2 → IR be defined as
f (x, y) = τ12 − 4w2 τ0 τ2 .
Then the curve r satisfies the equation f (r(t)) = 0 for all t.
Figure 1 depicts f in Bézier form. At this point we observe that the Ki have been
chosen so that they sum up to one. Indeed, from (3) one can rewrite them as
K0 (t) = J0 (t)(1 − ψ m ) + α0 ψ m ,
K1 (t) = J1 (t)(1 − ψ m ) + α1 ψ m ,
K2 (t) = J2 (t)(1 − ψ m ) + α2 ψ m ,
in which
α0 (t) =
1−t
,
1+w
α1 (t) =
4
w
,
1+w
α2 (t) =
(6)
t
.
1+w
(7)
P
P
P
Therefore, since
Ji =
αi = 1, we find that
Ki = 1. This is convenient because it
means that the Ki are barycentric coordinates for q and so from Lemma 2.2,
f (q(t)) = K12 (t) − 4w2 K0 (t)K2 (t),
(8)
which is a polynomial of degree 2n. Now it remains to simplify the right-hand side of (8)
in order to factorize f (q(t)).
Lemma 2.3. The polynomial f (q(t)) can be factorized as
f (q(t)) =
w2
w2
2 2m
n−1
(2t
−
1)
ψ
(t)
=
2
(w − 1)n−1 (1 − t)n−1 tn−1 (2t − 1)2 .
(1 + w)2
(1 + w)2
Proof. Substituting the expressions in (6) into the right-hand side of (8) leads to
f (q) = (J12 − 4w2 J0 J2 )(1 − ψ m )2
+ (2J1 α1 − 4w2 (J0 α2 + J2 α0 ))(1 − ψ m )ψ m
+ (α12 − 4w2 α0 α2 )ψ 2m .
The first term is zero from Lemma 2.2 and the second is zero due to the particular choice
of the αi . As a consequence,
f (q(t)) = (α12 (t) − 4w2 α0 (t)α2 (t))ψ 2m (t) =
w2
(2t − 1)2 ψ 2m (t),
(1 + w)2
as claimed. ⊳
It follows that q is a geometric Hermite approximation to r. The curve q has a total
number of 2n contacts with r since the equation f (q(t)) = 0 has 2n roots inside [0, 1]. In
fact, the two curves meet at three values of t: 0, 1/2, 1. To see that q(1/2) = r(1/2), a
short calculation reveals that J0 (1/2) = J2 (1/2) = α0 (1/2) = α2 (1/2) = 1/2(1 + w) and
J1 (1/2) = α1 (1/2) = w/(1 + w), so that from (6), Ki (1/2) = Ji (1/2), for i = 0, 1, 2.
Notice that when n = 3, the polynomial f (q(t)) has degree six and two zeros at each
of the values t = 0, 1/2, 1. In the special case when r is a circle, this must be a constant
multiple of the polynomial found in . This means that the approximation q can be
regarded as a generalisation of the first cubic approximation in  to both conic sections
and for general odd degree n.
Notice also that f (q(t)) is non-negative for any n and t, which implies that q always
lies to one side of r, in fact the side closest to the point p1 .
Continuity of the spline approximation.
By recursively subdividing r, using the
scheme discussed in , and applying the Hermite approximation to each subcurve, one
obtains a spline approximation. The unusual aspect of this spline curve is that its continuity is higher than expected, namely C 1 and Gn−1 due to the symmetry inherent in r
and the subdivision scheme.
Briefly, r can be affinely mapped into r̂, either a circle or an equilateral hyperbola,
symmetric about the x-axis . Then the two subcurves r̂1 , r̂2 , are symmetries of each
5
other. Using the facts: (a) that q, the spline approximation to r̂, consisting of the two
Hermite approximations, is symmetric about the x-axis, (b) that q is Gn−2 , and (c) that
n − 2 is odd, one can deduce that q is both C 1 and Gn−1 . Since parametric and geometric
continuity are invariant under affine transformations, it follows that the spline approximation to r inherits the same orders of continuity. The same argument applies to any depth
of subdivision.
In fact, we can reparametrize this symmetric q with respect to arc length s and write
q(s) = (x(s), y(s)), for s > 0, and q(s) = (x(−s), −y(−s)), for s < 0. Then, using the
Leibnitz rule, one differentiates the equation q′ (s).q′ (s) = 1, n − 2 times and, since q has
all derivatives up to n − 2 at s = 0, one obtains
(q(n−1) (0+) − q(n−1) (0−)) . q′ (0) = 0.
But q′ (0+) = (x′ (0), y ′ (0)) and q′ (0−) = (−x′ (0), y ′ (0)) mean that q′ (0) = (0, y ′ (0)).
Therefore
(q(n−1) (0+) − q(n−1) (0−)) . e2 = 0,
(9)
where e2 = (0, 1).
Now differentiating q(s) in the two cases s > 0, s < 0 we also find, since n − 1 is even,
that q(n−1) (0+) = (x(n−1) (0), y (n−1) (0)) and q(n−1) (0−) = (x(n−1) (0), −y (n−1) (0)) and so
q(n−1) (0+) − q(n−1) (0−) = (0, 2y (n−1) (0)),
from which it follows that
q(n−1) (0+) − q(n−1) (0−) . e1 = 0,
(10)
where e1 = (1, 0). Finally, (9) and (10) imply that q(n−1) (0+) − q(n−1) (0−) = 0 and that
q is Gn−1 at s = 0. That q is C 1 with respect to t, is an immediate consequence of the
symmetry coupled with the fact that q is G1 .
§3. The error bound
In order to implement the Hermite interpolation in practice it is important to have a
bound on the error of approximation. In this paper we are not concerned with the usual
type of approximation of the form q(t) ≈ r(t). Instead we wish to bound the Hausdorff
distance discussed by Degen ,
¡
¢
dH (q, r) = max d1 (q, r), d2 (q, r) ,
where the two one-sided distances are
d1 (q, r) = max min |q(s) − r(t)|.
t∈[0,1] s∈[0,1]
and
d2 (q, r) = max min |q(s) − r(t)|.
s∈[0,1] t∈[0,1]
The main theorem in this section is the following.
6
Theorem 3.1. If 0 < w ≤ 3 then
max(1, w2 ) (w − 1)n−1 1
dH (q, r) ≤
(1 + w)2
2n+1
n
µ
¶n−1
1
1−
|p0 − 2p1 + p2 |.
n
The two salient features in the bound are the terms (w − 1)n−1 and |p0 − 2p1 + p2 |.
In a previous paper  it was shown, using a particular recursive subdivision scheme for r,
consisting of alternately subdividing at the mid-point and normalising each subcurve, that
the quantity a = w − 1 is O(h2 ). It was further shown that the quantity |p0 − 2p1 + p2 |,
essentially a second order difference, is also O(h2 ). It follows that the error bound above
is O(h2n ), which is of the same order as the approximation itself.
It is also interesting to point out that considerable reduction in the error can be made
purely by increasing n, while leaving a fixed, especially if a is already small. Indeed with
the proviso that |a| < 2, we see that dH (q, r) converges to zero as n tends to infinity with
order O((a/2)n−1 /n).
The remainder of this section is devoted to proving the theorem. The first element in
this direction is a general lemma concerning any continuous curve p, of which q is a specific
example. By consdering the direction p0 − 2p1 + p2 , we bound the distance between r and
p in terms of the maximum of |f (p(t))|. Since f is quadratic, it may in general have two
zeros along any straight line. In order to make sure we are close to the right one we have
to restrict p to being inside the triangle △p0 p1 p2 .
Lemma 3.2. Suppose that p : [0, 1] → IR2 is any continuous curve which lies entirely
inside the (closed) triangle △p0 p1 p2 and such that p(0) = p0 and p(1) = p2 . Then
µ
¶
1
1
, 1 max |f (p(t))| |p0 − 2p1 + p2 |.
dH (p, r) ≤ max
4
w2
t∈[0,1]
Proof. Let t ∈ [0, 1] and consider the (infinite) straight line l passing through the point r(t),
parallel to the vector −p0 + 2p1 − p2 . We know that p(0) = p0 , p(1) = p2 and that the
curve p is continuous. Because p0 and p2 lie on opposite sides of l, it immediately follows
that p must intersect it at some point p(s), for some s ∈ [0, 1], though not necessarily
uniquely. Similarly, given s ∈ [0, 1], there is a straight line l passing through the point
p(s), and there must also be a corresponding (unique in this case) t ∈ [0, 1] such that r(t)
lies on the line l, since p is inside △p0 p1 p2 . From these observations and the definition of
the metric dH , we see that dH (p, r) is bounded by the maximum of the furthest distance
between p and r along all lines parallel with −p0 + 2p1 − p2 .
Now suppose that r(t) and p(s) lie on the same line l, parallel with −p0 + 2p1 − p2 .
From now on we assume that t ≤ 1/2 since a similar argument is applicable to the remaining
cases. First of all, since one can write r in the form
r(t) = (J0 (t) − J2 (t))p0 + J1 (t)p1 + 2J2 (t)c,
where c = (p0 + p2 )/2 it follows that the point r(t) lies in △p0 p1 c since
J0 (t) − J2 (t) =
(1 − t)2 − t2
1 − 2t
=
≥ 0.
1 − ψ(t)
1 − ψ(t)
7
In order to find out where the line l intersects the edges of the triangle write r(t) in the
form
r(t) = (1 − ξ1 )((1 − u)p0 + uc) + ξ1 ((1 − u)p0 + up1 ),
and by comparing coefficients one finds that
u = 1 + J2 (t) − J0 (t)
and
ξ1 = J1 (t)/(1 + J2 (t) − J0 (t)).
With these values, the line intersects the edge p0 c at the point
p3 = (1 − u)p0 + uc,
and intersects the edge p0 p1 at the point
p4 = (1 − u)p0 + up1 .
Now consider g : [0, 1] → IR, the restriction of f to the line segment p3 p4 :
g(ξ) = f ((1 − ξ)p3 + ξp4 ).
The values of g at 0 and 1 can easily be evaluated by evaluating f as a quadratic Bézier
curve along edges p0 c and p0 p1 respectively. Indeed
g(0) = −(2 − u)uw2 ,
and
g(1) = u2 .
By restricting f to the the segment cp1 , and then computing the second derivative along
it we also see that when p3 = c and p4 = p1 (i.e. u = 1),
g ′′ (ξ) = 2(1 − w2 ).
Using the fact that any directional second derivative of f is constant, one can then readily
verify that in general
g(ξ) = −(1 − ξ)2 w2 u(2 − u) − 2(1 − ξ)ξw2 u(1 − u) + ξ 2 u2 .
Therefore,
¡
¢
g ′ (ξ) = 2u (1 − ξ)w2 + ξ(u + w2 (1 − u)) .
As a consequence, g ′ (ξ) ≥ 2u min(w2 , 1) for all ξ ∈ [0, 1] and g is monotonically increasing.
Therefore, recalling that
r(t) = (1 − ξ1 )p3 + ξ1 p4
and that f (r(t)) = 0, we must have that g(ξ1 ) = 0 and g(ξ) < 0 for 0 ≤ ξ < ξ1 and
g(ξ) > 0 for ξ1 < ξ ≤ 1. But since p(s) lies on the line l and p lies inside △p0 p1 p2 , there
must exist ξ2 ∈ [0, 1] such that
p(s) = (1 − ξ2 )p3 + ξ2 p4 .
8
p
1
q(t)
r(t)
r (t)
q(t)
0
1<w<=3
0<w<1
r(t)
p
p
2
0
(p + p ) / 2
0
2
Fig. 2. Where the points r(t) and q(t) are in relation to r0 (t) in the cases 0<w<1 and 1<w≤3.
There are two possible cases: ξ2 ≥ ξ1 and ξ2 ≤ ξ1 . In the first, observe that
Z ξ2
g ′ (ξ) dξ ≥ 2u min(w2 , 1)(ξ2 − ξ1 ),
g(ξ2 ) = g(ξ2 ) − g(ξ1 ) =
ξ1
while in the second,
−g(ξ2 ) = g(ξ1 ) − g(ξ2 ) =
Z
ξ1
ξ2
g ′ (ξ) dξ ≥ 2u min(w2 , 1)(ξ1 − ξ2 ).
In either case,
1
|ξ2 − ξ1 | ≤
max
2u
or in other words
But
µ
|p(s) − r(t)|
1
≤
max
|p4 − p3 |
2u
¶
1
, 1 |g(ξ2 )|,
w2
µ
|p4 − p3 | = u|p1 − c| =
¶
1
, 1 |f (p(s))|.
w2
u
|p0 − 2p1 + p2 |
2
implies that
1
|p(s) − r(t)| ≤ max
4
µ
¶
1
, 1 |f (p(s))| |p0 − 2p1 + p2 |,
w2
and hence the required estimate follows by taking the maximum over s. ⊳
In order to apply Lemma 3.2 to the curve q we will require that q lies entirely inside
the triangle △p0 p1 p2 . The following two lemmas show that this is the case when r is
elliptic and in many of the hyperbolic cases too (0 < w ≤ 3). For w > 3, it is not
surprising that q is badly behaved since then |ψ(1/2)| > 1 and the series in the Ki are
divergent as n → ∞ (numerical examples were run to confirm this; as one increases w
beyond 3, parts of the approximation curve move outside the triangle and convexity is lost
even though r always remains inside). We show in addition that q lies entirely on the
same side of the parabola r0 as r, in the two cases, 0 < w < 1 and 1 < w ≤ 3. Figure 2
illustrates the various possibilities.
9
Lemma 3.3a. If 0 < w < 1 (i.e. all the elliptic cases) then the curve q lies inside the
(closed) triangle △p0 p1 p2 . Furthermore, if the triangle is considered to be split into two
halves by the curve r0 then q (like r) lies in the half not containing p1 .
Proof. To show the first statement it is necessary to show that K0 (t), K1 (t), and K2 (t)
are all non-negative for t ∈ [0, 1]. This is a trivial consequence of their definition in (5)
since ψ > 0. Due to the convexity of r0 , the second statement holds if K0 (t) ≥ (1 − t)2
and K2 (t) ≥ t2 . This is also self-evident from (5) since K0 can be written as the sum
of (1 − t)2 and positive quantities and likewise K2 can be written as the sum of t2 and
positive quantities. ⊳
The hyperbolic case is a little more tricky. We found that there is a relatively easy
proof for Lemma 3.3b, by induction on n, due to some recursive identities. To indicate the
dependency of the Ki on n in (5) we write Ki,n . Then the identities are
K0,n = (1 − t)2 + ψK0,n−2 ,
K1,n = 2wt(1 − t) + ψK1,n−2 ,
(11)
K2,n = t2 + ψK2,n−2 ,
which hold for n = 5, 7, 9, . . . and follow easily from definition (5). Notice that these also
demonstrate that the L∞ limit of Ki,n as n → ∞ is Ji as long as 0 < w < 3. In fact,
Ki,n − Ji = ψ(Ki,n−2 − Ji ),
which means that kKi,n − Ji k∞ → 0 as n → ∞ because |ψ(t)| ≤ |ψ(1/2)| = |1 − w|/2 < 1.
Lemma 3.3b. If 1 < w ≤ 3 (r is hyperbolic) then the curve q lies inside the triangle
△p0 p1 p2 . Furthermore, if the triangle is considered to be split into two halves by the
curve r0 then q (like r) lies in the half containing p1 .
Proof. As before, the first statement is equivalent to the condition that K0 (t), K1 (t),
and K2 (t) are all non-negative for t ∈ [0, 1]. Meanwhile, since r0 is convex, the second
statement holds if K0 (t) ≤ (1 − t)2 and K2n (t) ≤ t2 . Thus it is sufficient to show that
0 ≤ K0 (t) ≤ (1 − t)2 and 0 ≤ K2 (t) ≤ t2 since this immediately implies that
K1 (t) = 1 − K0 (t) − K2 (t) ≥ 2(1 − t)t ≥ 0.
Consider the first case, n = 3. Because 1 < w ≤ 3 and t ≤ 1,
µ
¶
µ
¶
2(w − 1)t
2(w − 1)
(3 − w)
2
K0,3 (t) = 1 −
(1 − t) ≥ 1 −
(1 − t)2 =
(1 − t)2 ≥ 0.
1+w
1+w
(1 + w)
The non-negativity of K2,3 is demonstrated in a similar way. Furthermore, the negativity
of ψ implies that K0,3 (t) ≤ (1 − t)2 and K2,3 (t) ≤ t2 .
We prove the hypothesis for n = 5, 7, 9, . . . by induction, applying (11) and observe
that ψ < 0. Suppose the hypothesis of the lemma holds when n is replaced by n − 2. Now,
since ψ < 0 and K0,n−2 (t) ≥ 0, it is clear that K0,n (t) ≤ (1 − t)2 . In a similar way one
10
finds that K2,n (t) ≤ t2 . On the other hand, since w ≤ 3 and K0,n−2 (t) ≤ (1 − t)2 , one
finds that
K0,n (t) ≥ (1 − t)2 − 4(1 − t)t(1 − t)2 = (1 − t)2 (1 − 2t)2 ≥ 0.
Similarly,
K2,n (t) ≥ t2 − 4(1 − t)t.t2 = t2 (1 − 2t)2 ≥ 0,
and this completes the induction step. ⊳
It remains to get an upper bound on the polynomial f (q(t)). This bound is valid for
all w and follows directly from Lemma 2.3.
Lemma 3.4. For all t ∈ [0, 1],
w2
(w − 1)n−1 1
0 ≤ f (q(t)) ≤
(1 + w)2
2n−1
n
µ
1
1−
n
¶n−1
.
Proof. Let F (t) = (1 − t)m (2t − 1)tm . We find the maximum and minimum of F over t in
the range [0, 1]. Indeed,
¡
¢
F ′ (t) =(1 − t)m−1 tm−1 − mt(2t − 1) + m(1 − t)(2t − 1) + 2(1 − t)t
¡
¢
= − (1 − t)m−1 tm−1 (4m + 2)t2 − (4m + 2)t + m .
p
So F ′ (t) = 0√implies that t = ti = 1/2 ± 1/ 2(4m + 2), i = 1, 2. But n = 2m + 1, so
ti = (1 ± 1/ √n)/2. Further, t2 = 1 − t1 , and therefore (1 − ti )ti = (1 − 1/n)/4. Also
2ti − 1 = ±1/ n and so
1
1
F (ti ) = ± m √ (1 − )m .
n
4
n
The maximum of f (q)) occurs at one of the values ti and since
f (q(t)) = 2n−1
w2
(w − 1)n−1 F 2 (t),
(1 + w)2
the lemma is complete. ⊳
Finally, we combine Lemmas 3.2, 3.3, and 3.4 to prove Theorem 3.1.
Proof of Theorem 3.1.
For 0 < w ≤ 3, Lemmas 3.3a, 3.3b show that q lies inside
△p0 p1 p2 . Then we may apply Lemma 3.2 to get
µ
¶
1
1
, 1 max |f (q(t))| |p0 − 2p1 + p2 |.
dH (q, r) ≤ max
4
w2
t∈[0,1]
So from Lemma 3.4, we find
max(1, w2 ) (w − 1)n−1 1
dH (q, r) ≤
(1 + w)2
2n+1
n
as claimed.
⊳
11
µ
¶n−1
1
|p0 − 2p1 + p2 |,
1−
n
§4. Approximation of surfaces
In this section we show how one can, in a similar way, also approximate the rational
P2 P2
j=0 Bi (u)Bj (v)wij pij
i=0
,
(12)
r(u, v) = P2 P2
B
(u)B
(v)w
i
j
ij
j=0
i=0
with pij ∈ IR3 , provided that
w00 wij = wi0 w0j .
Assuming (13), we can first reparametrize r in such

1
w2
[wij ] =  w1 w1 w2
1
w2
(13)
a way that the new weights are

1
w1  ,
1
and we can then re-express r in the form
r(u, v) =
2
2 X
X
Ji,w1 (u)Jj,w2 (v)pij .
i=0 j=0
Here the subscripts w1 and w2 indicate the obvious dependency of the Ji on w in (3). The
geometric Hermite interpolant is then the tensor-product polynomial surface
q(u, v) =
2
2 X
X
Ki,n1 ,w1 (u)Kj,n2 ,w2 (v)pij .
i=0 j=0
We now analyse the Hausdorff distance between these surfaces. In order to use the
error bound already developed in the curve case, we make the definition
µ
¶n−1
max(1, w2 ) (w − 1)n−1 1
1
E(w, n) =
1−
.
(14)
(1 + w)2
2n+1
n
n
Let p : Ω → IR3 and q : Ω → IR3 be any pair of continuous surfaces defined on the
unit square Ω = [0, 1] × [0, 1]. The Hausdorff distance is then
¡
¢
dH (p, q) = max d1 (p, q), d2 (p, q) ,
where the two one-sided distances are
d1 (p, q) =
max
min
|p(u1 , v1 ) − q(u2 , v2 )|.
(15)
max
min
|p(u1 , v1 ) − q(u2 , v2 )|.
(16)
(u2 ,v2 )∈Ω (u1 ,v1 )∈Ω
and
d2 (p, q) =
(u1 ,v1 )∈Ω (u2 ,v2 )∈Ω
Now consider the following lemma.
12
Lemma 4.1. The Hausdorff distance between p and q is bounded by the Hausdorff distances between corresponding isoparametric curves in either variable:
dH (p, q) ≤ max dH (p(·, v), q(·, v)),
and
v
dH (p, q) ≤ max dH (p(u, ·), q(u, ·)).
u
Proof. It follows from definition (15) that
d1 (p, q) = max max min min |p(u1 , v1 ) − q(u2 , v2 )|.
u2
v2
u1
v1
≤ max max min |p(u1 , v) − q(u2 , v)|.
v
u2
u1
= max d1 (p(·, v), q(·, v)).
v
So the (one-sided) distance of p from q is bounded by the maximum of the distances of
corresponding isoparametric curves in the first parameter. A similar inequality relates the
distance (d2 ) of the second surface from the first and taking the maximum of these yields
dH (p, q) ≤ max dH (p(·, v), q(·, v)).
v
The same argument applies to isoparametric curves in the second parameter. ⊳
Now let a1 = w1 − 1 and a2 = w2 − 1. Lemmas 3.3 and 4.1 and Theorem 3.1 are used
to prove the following. Recall the definition of E in (14).
Theorem 4.2. If 0 < w1 ≤ 3 and 0 < w2 ≤ 3, then
dH (q, r) ≤ E(w1 , n1 ) max |p0,j − 2p1,j + p2,j | + E(w2 , n2 ) max |pi,0 − 2pi,1 + pi,2 |.
j=0,1,2
i=0,1,2
Proof. We define the intermediate surface g : Ω → IR3 as
g(u, v) =
2
2 X
X
Ji,w1 (u)Kj,n2 ,w2 (v)pij .
i=0 j=0
Since dH is a metric, we may use the triangle inequality,
dH (q, r) ≤ dH (q, g) + dH (g, r).
Now it follows from Lemma 4.1 that
dH (q, g) ≤ max dH (q(·, v), g(·, v)).
v
But for all v,
q(u, v) =
2
X
Ki,n1 ,w1 (u)qi (v),
and
i=0
g(u, v) =
2
X
i=0
13
Ji,w1 (u)qi (v),
where
qi (v) =
2
X
Kj,n2 ,w2 (v)pij .
j=0
Therefore both curves q(·, v) and g(·, v), share the same three control points and central
weight. So we can apply Theorem 3.1 with 0 < w1 ≤ 3. Further, Lemmas 3.3a and 3.3b
show that when 0 < w2 ≤ 3, the basis {Kj,n2 ,w2 } forms a partition of unity. Thus
dH (q, g) ≤E(w1 , n1 )|q0 (v) − 2q1 (v) + q2 (v)|,
≤E(w1 , n1 ) max |p0,j − 2p1,j + p2,j |.
(17)
j=0,1,2
It is a standard fact that the basis {Ji,w1 } forms a partition of unity whenever w > 0. By
considering isoparametric curves in v (fixed u), and applying Theorem 3.1 with 0 < w2 ≤ 3,
we then find similarly that
dH (g, r) ≤ E(w2 , n2 ) max |pi,0 − 2pi,1 + pi,2 |,
i=0,1,2
(18)
and the theorem follows from the triangle inequality. ⊳
It is clear from this bound that by recursively subdividing and normalising r in either
parameter direction as in , we can approximate it by a spline q(u, v), whose order of
approximation is O(h2n1 ) in u and O(h2n2 ) in v. After each subdivision, the greater of
the two error bounds (17) and (18) can be used to determine the parameter direction in
which to subdivide next. The approximant will also be C 1 and Gn1 −1 in each isocurve in
the u parameter and C 1 and Gn2 −1 in each isocurve in the v parameter.
§5. Numerical examples
In order to express the approximant as a C 1 uniform spline we derived the Bézier form for
the Hermite interpolant q in (4). It is sufficient to express K0 in Bernstein form and, by
degree raising each ψ i to degree n, writing a = w − 1, and recalling that n = 2m + 1, this
turns out to be
n µ ¶
X
n j
t (1 − t)n−j kj,0 ,
K0 (t) =
j
j=0
where
kj,0
P
´ ³ ´
³
j
i n−2i−2

/ nj
(−2a)

i=0
j−i


´
´ ¡ ¢
³

 ³Pm−1
n
m
i n−2i−2
+
(−2a)
/(2
+
a)
/ m
(−2a)
i=0
m−i
=
´ ³ ´
³

Pn−j−2

i n−2i−2

/ nj
(−2a)

j−i

 i=0
0
for j = 0, . . . , m − 1,
for j = m,
for j = m + 1, . . . , n − 2,
for j = n − 1, n.
If the Bernstein coefficients of K1 (t) and K2 (t) are kj,1 and kj,2 respectively, then clearly
kj,2 = kn−j,0 and kj,1 = 1 − kj,0 − kj,2 . From this, one computes the Bézier points
14
Fig. 3. Approximation of sphere
Fig. 4. Approximation of torus.
of q. Since the spline curve approximations are C 1 , one can simply remove the common
Bézier points where segments meet; the remaining ones are the spline control points. The
difference between each two adjacent distinct knots is equal and each internal knot has
multiplicity n − 1. The surface approximations can be put into spline form by applying
first the conversion from the Ki ’s to Bernstein form in one parameter direction, followed
by a conversion in the other.
The approximation scheme was applied to the standard NURBS representation for
the unit sphere. In this representation there are eight patches of the form r in (12) and
(13) holds in each
√ case. For example, the surface r representing the first octant has weights
w1 = w2 = 1/ 2 and control points


(1, 0, 0) (1, 0, 1) (0, 0, 1)
[pij ] =  (1, 1, 0) (1, 1, 1) (0, 0, 1)  .
(0, 1, 0) (0, 1, 1) (0, 0, 1)
We subdivided r twice in each variable and computed the tensor-product Hermite interpolant q for each subpatch, using degree n1 = n2 = 7. The upper bound in Theorem 4.2
on the Hausdorff error was found to be 4 × 10−16 . This illustrates how simple the method
is to implement even for high degrees.
By piecing together the spline approximations for each of r’s eight patches, one obtains
a single spline approximation, whose patches are depicted in Figure 3, for the whole unit
sphere. Due to symmetry, similar to , the continuity of the whole approxmant is G6
along all isocurves. Note that each isocurve in Figure 3 is itself a G6 curve approximation
of degree seven to a unit circle.
In practice one would probably choose n = 3 or n = 5 since polynomials of high degree
are slow to display and manipulate. The surface in Figure 4 shows a bicubic approximant
(n1 = n2 = 3) to a torus of overall diameter 1, with outer radius 3/8 and inner radius
1/8. Here, the approximant has one patch corresponding to each of the eight patches of
the torus in standard rational biquadratic representation, i.e. there were no subdivisions.
The figure shows extra isocurves. The continuity is G2 in each parameter direction and
the error bound in this case is 0.00025.
15
§6. Conclusion
An O(h2n ) Hermite interpolant to a rational quadratic Bézier curve has been presented.
A precise bound on the Hausdorff error has also been derived. The interpolant has very
desirable properties: it has almost maximum order of contact at the end-points, making the
spline approximation very smooth; yet it has tangential contact at the mid-point, making
the error very small.
For small n such as three or five, the approximation and error bound provide the
basis for a conversion algorithm, converting analytic curves and surfaces to spline form.
The interpolant also shows that global O(h2n ) Hermite interpolation for planar curves is
possible for arbitrarily high n.
It may be possible to find explicit geometric Hermite interpolants for arbitary rational
Bézier curves, based on the ideas discussed here. Firstly, any rational Bézier curve can be
put in implicit form. Secondly, assuming standard form, the denominator can always be
written as the sum of 1 and a polynomial which will be small when the weights are close
to 1. This means that an expansion of the kind in (5) is possible. The difficulty would
be choosing the right correction terms, analogous to the αi in (7), in order to factorize
f (q(t)) or at least sufficiently reduce |f (q(t))| to again obtain O(h2n ).
§7. References
1. Degen, W., Best approximations of parametric curves by splines, in Mathematical
Methods in CAGD, T. Lyche & L. L. Schumaker (eds.), Academic Press, Boston
(1992), 171–184.
2. Degen, W., High accurate rational approximation of parametric curves, ComputerAided Geom. Design 10 (1993), 293–313.
3. Dokken, T., M. Dæhlen, T. Lyche & K. Mørken, Good approximation of circles by
curvature-continuous Bézier curves, Computer-Aided Geom. Design 7 (1990), 33–41.
4. Dyn, N. & C. A. Micchelli, Piecewise polynomial spaces and geometric continuity of
curves, Numer. Math. 54 (1988), 319–337.
5. Farin, G., Curves and surfaces for computer aided geometric design, Academic Press,
San Diego, 1988.
6. Floater, M. S., High order approximation of conic sections by quadratic splines,
Computer-Aided Geom. Design 12 (1995), 617–637.
7. Gregory, J. A., Geometric continuity, in Mathematical Methods in CAGD, T. Lyche
& L. L. Schumaker (eds.), Academic Press, Boston (1989), 353–371.
8. Lyche, T. & K. Mørken, A metric for parametric approximation, in Curves and Surfaces in Geometric Design, P. J. Laurent, A. Le Méhauté, and L. L. Schumaker (eds.),
A K Peters, Wellesley, MA (1994), 311–318.
9. Scherer, K., O(h2n ) approximation by piecewise polynomial curves of degree n in the
plane, preprint.
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