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Published August 2014 | metadata_only
Journal Article

Discrete 2-Tensor Fields on Triangulations


Geometry processing has made ample use of discrete representations of tangent vector fields and antisymmetric tensors (i.e., forms) on triangulations. Symmetric 2-tensors, while crucial in the definition of inner products and elliptic operators, have received only limited attention. They are often discretized by first defining a coordinate system per vertex, edge or face, then storing their components in this frame field. In this paper, we introduce a representation of arbitrary 2-tensor fields on triangle meshes. We leverage a coordinate-free decomposition of continuous 2-tensors in the plane to construct a finite-dimensional encoding of tensor fields through scalar values on oriented simplices of a manifold triangulation. We also provide closed-form expressions of pairing, inner product, and trace for this discrete representation of tensor fields, and formulate a discrete covariant derivative and a discrete Lie bracket. Our approach extends discrete/finite-element exterior calculus, recovers familiar operators such as the weighted Laplacian operator, and defines discrete notions of divergence-free, curl-free, and traceless tensors–thus offering a numerical framework for discrete tensor calculus on triangulations. We finally demonstrate the robustness and accuracy of our operators on analytical examples, before applying them to the computation of anisotropic geodesic distances on discrete surfaces.

Additional Information

© 2014 The Author(s.) Computer Graphics Forum © 2014 The Eurographics Association and John Wiley & Sons Ltd. Published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd. Issue published online: 23 AUG 2014; article first published online: 23 AUG 2014. We thank Patrick Mullen for his feedback on a draft of this paper, and Dmitry Pavlov for early discussions. MD, MB, and FdG were partially supported through NSF grant CCF-1011944 and a PhD Google Fellowship, while YT and BL were partially supported through NSF grants IIS-0953096, CMMI-1250261 and III-1302285.

Additional details

August 20, 2023
August 20, 2023