Computational Geometry

Definition of Computational Geometry

Computational geometry is a branch of computer science that deals with the algorithmic study of geometric shapes and structures. The primary focus is on efficiently solving geometric problems arising in various fields such as computer graphics, robotics, computer-aided design, and geographic information systems. It explores efficient algorithms for tasks like shape recognition, pattern matching, and intersection determination.


The phonetics for the keyword “Computational Geometry” in the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) are:/ˌkɒm.pjʊˈteɪ.ʃən.əl dʒɪˈɒm.ɪ.tri/

Key Takeaways

  1. Computational geometry is an area of study that focuses on the development of algorithms and data structures to solve geometric problems, such as finding the intersection of lines or the closest pair of points in a 2D or 3D space.
  2. Applications of computational geometry can be found in various fields such as computer graphics, computer-aided design and manufacturing (CAD/CAM), robotics, geographic information systems (GIS), and bioinformatics.
  3. There are several algorithmic techniques used in computational geometry, including divide and conquer, plane sweep, geometric transformation, and linear programming. These methods enable efficient and accurate solutions to geometric problems.

Importance of Computational Geometry

Computational geometry is a vital branch of computer science and mathematics that focuses on the study and manipulation of geometric objects, primarily shapes and figures, by means of algorithms and computations.

Its importance lies in the inherent complexity of geometrical problems that, when tackled with computational methods, provide solutions for a wide range of applications in fields such as computer graphics, robotics, geographic information systems, computer-aided design, and manufacturing.

Moreover, computational geometry can optimize and streamline solutions to inherently geometric issues, contributing to advancements in efficiency, accuracy, and problem-solving capabilities across various domains of science and technology.


Computational geometry is an area of immense importance that focuses on providing efficient algorithms and techniques to handle geometric problems. The purpose of this field is to make it possible to process, analyze, and manipulate spatial or geometric data as quickly and efficiently as possible.

By exploring the relationship between geometry and computer science, computational geometry has become instrumental in tackling real-life problems in various industries, including computer graphics, computer vision, geographic information systems (GIS), mesh generation, robotics, and even fields like molecular biology and astrophysics. At its core, computational geometry is used for designing algorithms that work with geometric objects, such as points, lines, curves, or polygons, and finding efficient solutions to common geometric problems.

For instance, it is utilized in solving tasks like determining the shortest distance between two objects, intersecting lines or polygons, computing the convex hull of a given set of points, or detecting intersections or collisions in a complex spatial area. These applications play a vital role in numerous domains, from designing efficient graphics rendering systems, creating interactive virtual environments, to mapping land use patterns, and even in route planning or drone navigation.

By enabling the efficient processing of spatial data, computational geometry has revolutionized the way we understand, interact with, and visualize the world around us.

Examples of Computational Geometry

Computational Geometry is a branch of computer science that focuses on using algorithmic and mathematical techniques to solve problems related to geometry. Here are three real-world examples of its application:

GIS (Geographic Information Systems): Computational geometry plays a critical role in the development and functionality of GIS applications. GIS is a spatial database management system used for capturing, analyzing, and representing geographical data. Examples include Google Earth, QGIS, and ArcGIS. Computational geometry algorithms are commonly used for tasks such as finding the shortest path between locations, identifying the nearest points of interest, and calculating the area of regions.

Computer Aided Design (CAD) and Manufacturing (CAM): Computational geometry is widely used in the fields of engineering and architecture to design computer-based models of objects, structures, and systems. Examples include AutoCAD, SolidWorks, and CATIA. Computational geometry methods are applied for curve fitting, surface reconstruction, and mesh generation, which are essential to create 3D renderings. In CAM, these algorithms help to calculate tool paths and optimize machining processes in manufacturing industries, such as automotive and aerospace engineering.

Robotics and Autonomous Navigation: The utilization of computational geometry in robotics and autonomous vehicles (like self-driving cars or drones) enables them to navigate and interact with their environment effectively. Algorithms are used for obstacle detection, path planning, and collision avoidance. Examples of platforms in the autonomous navigation domain include Google’s Waymo self-driving car project, Tesla’s Autopilot, and drone company, DJI. Computational geometry helps these platforms to process LIDAR and other sensor data, build a spatial understanding of the environment, and make decisions on optimal paths for safe navigation.

FAQ: Computational Geometry

1. What is computational geometry?

Computational geometry is a branch of computer science that deals with the study of algorithms and data structures for solving geometric problems. It has applications in various fields such as computer graphics, computer vision, robotics, geographic information systems (GIS), and more.

2. What are some common problems in computational geometry?

Common problems in computational geometry include point location, convex hull computation, polygon triangulation, closest pair of points, Voronoi diagram, Delaunay triangulation, line segment intersection, and many more.

3. What are the applications of computational geometry?

Computational geometry has numerous applications in fields such as computer graphics, computer-aided design (CAD), robotics, geographic information systems (GIS), computational biology, machine learning, and more. Some specific examples include pathfinding, collision detection, shape analysis, and geospatial analysis.

4. What data structures are commonly used in computational geometry?

Some common data structures used in computational geometry include arrays, linked lists, trees (e.g., binary trees, quad trees, kd trees, BSP trees), heaps, and graphs. These structures help in efficiently solving various geometric problems and queries.

5. Are there any libraries or tools for computational geometry?

Yes, there are several libraries and tools available, such as CGAL (C++), Shapely (Python), JTS (Java), and GEOS (C++). These libraries provide implementations of various geometric algorithms and data structures, enabling developers to solve complex geometric problems easily and efficiently.

Related Technology Terms

  • Convex Hull
  • Voronoi Diagram
  • Delaunay Triangulation
  • Minimum Spanning Tree
  • Geometric Query Processing

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