Section: Research Program


Geometric modeling and processing revolve around three main end goals: a computerized shape representation that can be visualized (creating a realistic or artistic depiction), simulated (anticipating the real) or realized (manufacturing a conceptual or engineering design). Aside from the mere editing of geometry, central research themes in geometric modeling involve conversions between physical (real), discrete (digital), and mathematical (abstract) representations. Going from physical to digital is referred to as shape acquisition and reconstruction; going from mathematical to discrete is referred to as shape approximation and mesh generation; going from discrete to physical is referred to as shape rationalization.

Geometric modeling has become an indispensable component for computational and reverse engineering. Simulations are now routinely performed on complex shapes issued not only from computer-aided design but also from an increasing amount of available measurements. The scale of acquired data is quickly growing: we no longer deal exclusively with individual shapes, but with entire scenes, possibly at the scale of entire cities, with many objects defined as structured shapes. We are witnessing a rapid evolution of the acquisition paradigms with an increasing variety of sensors and the development of community data, as well as disseminated data.

In recent years, the evolution of acquisition technologies and methods has translated in an increasing overlap of algorithms and data in the computer vision, image processing, and computer graphics communities. Beyond the rapid increase of resolution through technological advances of sensors and methods for mosaicing images, the line between laser scan data and photos is getting thinner. Combining, e.g., laser scanners with panoramic cameras leads to massive 3D point sets with color attributes. In addition, it is now possible to generate dense point sets not just from laser scanners but also from photogrammetry techniques when using a well-designed acquisition protocol. Depth cameras are getting increasingly common, and beyond retrieving depth information we can enrich the main acquisition systems with additional hardware to measure geometric information about the sensor and improve data registration: e.g., accelerometers or gps for geographic location, and compasses or gyrometers for orientation. Finally, complex scenes can be observed at different scales ranging from satellite to pedestrian through aerial levels.

These evolutions allow practitioners to measure urban scenes at resolutions that were until now possible only at the scale of individual shapes. The related scientific challenge is however more than just dealing with massive data sets coming from increase of resolution, as complex scenes are composed of multiple objects with structural relationships. The latter relate i) to the way the individual shapes are grouped to form objects, object classes or hierarchies, ii) to geometry when dealing with similarity, regularity, parallelism or symmetry, and iii) to domain-specific semantic considerations. Beyond reconstruction and approximation, consolidation and synthesis of complex scenes require rich structural relationships.

The problems arising from these evolutions suggest that the strengths of geometry and images may be combined in the form of new methodological solutions such as photo-consistent reconstruction. In addition, the process of measuring the geometry of sensors (through gyrometers and accelerometers) often requires both geometry process and image analysis for improved accuracy and robustness. Modeling urban scenes from measurements illustrates this growing synergy, and it has become a central concern for a variety of applications ranging from urban planning to simulation through rendering and special effects.