Mixed Finite Elements for Variational Surface Modeling

Alec Jacobson, New York University
Wednesday, October 20, 2010, 12:15pm
CAB, G 11


Many problems in geometric modeling can be described using variational formulations that define the smoothness of the shape and its behavior w.r.t. the posed modeling constraints. For example, high-quality C^2 surfaces that obey boundary conditions on positions, tangents and curvatures can be conveniently defined as solutions of high-order geometric PDEs; the advantage of such a formulation is its conceptual representation-independence. In practice, solving high-order problems efficiently and accurately for surfaces approximated by meshes is notoriously difficult. Classical FEM approaches require high-order elements which are complex to construct and expensive to compute. Recent discrete geometric schemes are more efficient, but their convergence properties are hard to analyze, and they often lack a systematic way to impose boundary conditions. In this paper, we present an approach to discretizing common PDEs on meshes using mixed finite elements, where additional variables for the derivatives in the problem are introduced. Such formulations use first-order derivatives only, allowing a discretization with simple linear elements. Various boundary conditions can be naturally discretized in this setting. We formalize continuous region constraints, and show that these seamlessly fit into the mixed framework. We demonstrate mixed FEM in the context of diverse modeling tasks and analyze its effectiveness and convergence behavior.

Joint work with Elif Tosun, Olga Sorkine and Denis Zorin.


Alec Jacobson is a PhD candidate at the School of Computer Science, Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences, New York University. He works at the Media Research Laboratory under the supervision of Prof. Olga Sorkine. His research interests are in computer graphics, animation and geometric modeling, in particular: interactive shape modeling, interactive animation tools, 3D input devices and user interfaces, and digital geometry processing.

Homepage: http://cs.nyu.edu/~jacobson/