Solid Modeling

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Rossignac, Jarek
Requicha, Aristides A. G.
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A solid model is a digital representation of the geometry of an existing or envisioned physical object. Solid models are used in many industries, from entertainment to health care. They play a major role in the discrete-part manufacturing industries, where precise models of parts and assemblies are created using solid modeling software or more general computer-aided design (CAD) systems. Solid modeling is an interdisciplinary field that involves a growing number of areas. Its objectives evolved from a deep understanding of the practices and requirements of the targeted application domains. Its formulation and rigor are based on mathematical foundations derived from general and algebraic topology, and from Euclidean, differential, and algebraic geometry. The computational aspects of solid modeling deal with efficient data structures and algorithms, and benefit from recent developments in the field of computational geometry. Efficient processing is essential, because the complexity of industrial models is growing faster than the performance of commercial workstations. Techniques for modeling and analyzing surfaces and for computing their intersections are important in solid modeling. This area of research, sometimes called computer aided geometric design, has strong ties with numerical analysis and differential geometry. Graphic user-interface (GUI) techniques also play a crucial role in solid modeling, since they determine the overall usability of the modeler and impace the user's productivity. There have always been strong symbiotic links and overlaps between the solid modeling community and the computer graphics community. Solid modeling interfaces are based on efficient three-dimensional (3D) graphics techniques, whereas research in 3D graphics focuses on fast or photo-realistic rendering of complex scenes, often composed of solid models, and on realistic or artistic animations of non-rigid objects. A similar symbiotic relation with computer vision is regaining popularity, as many research efforts in vision are model-based and attempt to extract 3D models from images or video sequences of existing parts or scenes. These efforts are particularly important for solid modeling, because the cost of manually designing solid models of existing objects or scenes far excees the other costs (hardware, software, maintenance, and training) associated with solid modeling. Finally, the growing complexity of solid models and the growing need for collaboration, reusability of design, and interoperability of software require expertise in distributed databases, constraint management systems, optimization techniques, object linking standards, and internet protocols. This report provides a brief overview of the solid modeling field, its fundamental technologies, and some important applications.
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