Signed distance transform using graphics hardware

Christian Sigg, Ronald Peikert, Markus Gross
Computer Graphics Laboratory, Computer Science Dept., ETH, Zurich, CH-8092 Zurich, Switzerland
IEEE Visualization, 2003. VIS 2003


   title={Signed distance transform using graphics hardware},

   author={Sigg, C. and Peikert, R. and Gross, M.},

   booktitle={Proceedings of the 14th IEEE Visualization 2003 (VIS’03)},



   organization={IEEE Computer Society}


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This paper presents a signed distance transform algorithm using graphics hardware, which computes the scalar valued function of the Euclidean distance to a given manifold of co-dimension one. If the manifold is closed and orientable, the distance has a negative sign on one side of the manifold and a positive sign on the other. Triangle meshes are considered for the representation of a two-dimensional manifold and the distance function is sampled on a regular Cartesian grid. In order to achieve linear complexity in the number of grid points, to each primitive we assign a simple polyhedron enclosing its Voronoi cell. Voronoi cells are known to contain exactly all points that lay closest to its corresponding primitive. Thus, the distance to the primitive only has to be computed for grid points inside its polyhedron. Although Voronoi cells partition space, the polyhedrons enclosing these cells do overlap. In regions where these overlaps occur, the minimum of all computed distances is assigned to a grid point. In order to speed up computations, points inside each polyhedron are determined by scan conversion of grid slices using graphics hardware. For this task, a fragment program is used to perform the nonlinear interpolation and minimization of distance values.
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