- Barycentric coordinates (mathematics)
mathematics, barycentric coordinates are coordinates defined by the vertices of a simplex(a triangle, tetrahedron, etc). Barycentric coordinates are a form of homogeneous coordinates.
Let "x"1, ..., "x""n" be the vertices of a simplex in a
vector space"A". If, for some point "p" in "A",
then we say that the coefficients ("a"1, ..., "a""n") are "barycentric coordinates" of "p" with respect to "x"1, ..., "x""n". The vertices themselves have the coordinates (1, 0, 0, ..., 0), (0, 1, 0, ..., 0), ..., (0, 0, 0, ..., 1). Barycentric coordinates are not unique: for any "b" not equal to zero, ("b a"1, ..., "b a""n") are also barycentric coordinates of "p".
When the coordinates are not negative, the point "p" lies in the
convex hullof "x"1, ..., "x""n", that is, in the simplex which has those points as its vertices.
If we imagine masses equal to "a"1, ..., "a""n" attached to the vertices of the simplex, the center of mass (the
barycenter) is then "p". This is the origin of the term "barycentric", introduced (1827) by August Ferdinand Möbius.
Barycentric coordinates on triangles
In the context of a
triangle, barycentric coordinates are also known as areal coordinates, because the coordinates of "P" with respect to triangle "ABC" are proportional to the (signed) areas of "PBC", "PCA" and "PAB". Areal and trilinear coordinatesare used for similar purposes in geometry.
Barycentric or areal coordinates are extremely useful in engineering applications involving triangular subdomains. These make analytic
integralsoften easier to evaluate, and Gaussian quadraturetables are often presented in terms of area coordinates.
First let us consider a triangle T defined by three vertices , and . Any point located on this triangle may then be written as a weighted sum of these three vertices, i.e.
where , and are the area coordinates. These are subjected to the constraint
which means that
Following this, the integral of a function on T is:
Note that the above has the form of a linear interpolation. Indeed, area coordinates will also allow us to perform a
linear interpolationat all points in the triangle if the values of the function are known at the vertices.
Converting to barycentric coordinates
Given a point inside a triangle it is also desirable to obtain the area coordinates , and at this point. We can write the barycentric expansion of vector having
Cartesian coordinatesin terms of the components of the triangle vertices (, , ) as
substituting into the above gives
Rearranging, this is
linear transformationmay be written more succinctly as
Where is the
vectorof area coordinates, is the vectorof Cartesian coordinates, and is a matrix given by
Now the matrix is invertible, since , , and are
linearly independent(if this was not the case, they would be colinearand would not form a triangle). Thus, we can rearrange the above equation to get
Finding the barycentric coordinates has thus been reduced to finding the inverse matrix of , a trivial problem in the case of 2×2 matrices.
Determining if a point is inside a triangle
Since barycentric coordinates are a
linear transformationof Cartesian coordinates, it follows that they vary linearly along the edges and over the area of the triangle. If a point lies in the interior of the triangle, all of the Barycentric coordinates lie in the open interval. If a point lies on an "edge" of the triangle, at least one of the area coordinates is zero, while the rest lie in the closed interval.
Summarizing,:Point lies inside the triangle
iff.:Otherwise, lies on the edge or corner of the triangle if .:Otherwise, lies outside the triangle.
Interpolation on a triangular unstructured grid
Barycentric coordinates provide a convenient way to
interpolatea function on an unstructured gridor mesh, as long as the function's value is known at all vertices of the mesh.
To interpolate a function at a point , we go through each triangular element and transform into the barycentric coordinates of that triangle. If , then the point lies in the triangle or on its edge (explained in the previous section). Now, we interpolate the value of as
This linear interpolation is automatically normalized since .
Barycentric coordinates on tetrahedra
Barycentric coordinates may be easily extended to three dimensions. The 3D
simplexis a tetrahedron, a polyhedronhaving four triangular faces and four vertices. Once again, the barycentric coordinates are defined so that the first vertex maps to barycentric coordinates , , etc.
This is again a linear transformation, and we may extend the above procedure for triangles to find the barycentric coordinates of a point with respect to a tetrahedron:
where is now a 3×3 matrix:
Once again, the problem of finding the barycentric coordinates has been reduced to inverting a 3×3 matrix. 3D barycentric coordinates may be used to decide if a point lies inside a tetrahedral volume, and to interpolate a function within a tetrahedral mesh, in an analogous manner to the 2D procedure. Tetrahedral meshes are often used in
finite element analysisbecause the use of barycentric coordinates can greatly simplify 3D interpolation.
* [http://www.cut-the-knot.org/triangle/glasses.shtml Barycentric coordinates: A Curious Application] "(solving the "three glasses" problem)" at
* [http://www.math.fau.edu/yiu/barycentricpaper.pdf The uses of homogeneous barycentric coordinates in plane euclidean geometry]
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