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Curve intersections

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Curve intersections


NS (view profile)


14 Dec 2008 (Updated )

Fast computation of intersections and self-intersections of curves using vectorization.

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While a few other functions already exist in FEX that compute the intersection points of curves, this short piece of code was written with speed being the highest priority. No loops are used throughout, taking full advantage of MATLAB's vectorization capabilities

I welcome any comments, suggestions, bug reports etc.


INTERX Intersection of curves
    P = INTERX(L1,L2) returns the intersection points of two curves L1
    and L2. The curves L1,L2 can be either closed or open and are described
    by two-row-matrices, where each row contains its x- and y- coordinates.
    The intersection of groups of curves (e.g. contour lines, multiply
    connected regions etc) can also be computed by separating them with a
    column of NaNs as for example
          L = [x11 x12 x13 ... NaN x21 x22 x23 ...;
                y11 y12 y13 ... NaN y21 y22 y23 ...]
    P has the same structure as L1 and L2, and its rows correspond to the
    x- and y- coordinates of the intersection points of L1 and L2. If no
    intersections are found, the returned P is empty.
    P = INTERX(L1) returns the self-intersection points of L1. To keep
    the code simple, the points at which the curve is tangent to itself are
    not included. P = INTERX(L1,L1) returns all the points of the curve
    together with any self-intersection points.
        t = linspace(0,2*pi);
        r1 = sin(4*t)+2; x1 = r1.*cos(t); y1 = r1.*sin(t);
        r2 = sin(8*t)+2; x2 = r2.*cos(t); y2 = r2.*sin(t);
        P = InterX([x1;y1],[x2;y2]);


This file inspired Accurate Polygon Extension and Fast Parsing Of Line Segments In A Bw Mask.

MATLAB release MATLAB 7.6 (R2008a)
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Comments and Ratings (22)
17 Nov 2014 Eric V

Eric V (view profile)

Thanks. That's great. Works fine.

20 Oct 2014 Abel Brown  
06 Oct 2014 JUN YON LER

It does not work.

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20 Aug 2014 Chad Greene

Chad Greene (view profile)

This function has proven very helpful for me. Thank you for sharing, and thank you for writing such a nice, neat code.

06 Mar 2014 Abdulrahman

THANK YOU SO MUCH. Great algorithm and works perfectly and super fast.


07 Jan 2014 Ilya

Ilya (view profile)

it would be helpful to show how to get the (all) values of "t", at which the intersections occur.

Namely, two values of the parameter "t" correspond to each self-intersection.

06 Jan 2014 Ilya

Ilya (view profile)

it would be helpful to show how to get the (all) values of "t", at which the intersections occur.

12 Dec 2013 Matthew Arthington

I've searched for a fast intersections function and I can't find one faster than this.

I'm a bit surprised that repeated subfunction calls are as fast as they are for large curves. Vectorising some of the operations speeds up the function, but only for smaller curves.

15 Dec 2012 NS

NS (view profile)

To Emil: Thank you for your comment. Unfortunately there is not much that can be done about that, unless one uses for-loops, which are likely to delay the execution time considerably.

To make the execution time as fast as possible, I need to create N x M matrices, where N and M are the number of segments in each curve.

Perhaps you can try some other contribution on File Exchange that does not utilize vectorization, but it is likely to be very slow (there should be about 4e10 tests for intersections for vectors of that size!)

Alternatively, contact me to send you a modification to my code to test with your data. However, I cannot guarantee accuracy of the results, as I did not do extensive tests to it, but it seems to work.

Comment only
14 Dec 2012 Emil Olsen

I frequently use this function to analyze threshold crossings in locomotion data and I love it! However since using it in 2012b on a 64bit windows machine I keep running out of memory even if just testing 20000 column vectors. Any ideas for a fix for this?

08 Mar 2012 Pie Mes

Really good, fast and versatile piece of code. BIG UPS.

04 Mar 2012 Muhammad

Please ignore the above comment. I have found a way and using your code.

Best regards.

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04 Mar 2012 Muhammad


Thanks for the share.
In my case, i have two lines in the point data form. For example, I have 3 columns of the data Y,X1 and X2. first line L1 is obtained by plotting and connecting (X1,Y) and the second line L2 is obtained by plotting and connecting (X2,Y).
Can you please explain me how can i convert this point data to "two-row-matrices" as described here.


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24 Feb 2012 NS

NS (view profile)

To Aviator: yes, it should handle these cases.

Comment only
23 Feb 2012 Aviator

Does this code accommodate intersection points if a segment of the graph is vertical?

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18 Jan 2012 Adam

Adam (view profile)

Thanks a lot for this function!!!Works correct where other intersection functions didn't!!

25 Jul 2011 Jeroen van Nugteren  
20 Apr 2011 Valerian  
30 Nov 2010 ayesha sohail

really very helpful..... many thanks

01 Dec 2009 Zhang Yanxiang  
27 Oct 2009 Adam

Adam (view profile)

Does exactly what it says. No problems.

15 May 2009 Oguzcan

useful, efficient, and fast

26 Nov 2009

Faster execution & better memory management

24 Sep 2010

Fixed a bug identified by Liu Minjie that would sometimes occur for two-point line segments.

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