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Convex Hull

Convex hull is the concept of defining the vertices of the smallest convex polyhedron that contains a given set of points. 

Uses of Convex Hull

Convex hulls are widely used in various fields such as computer graphics, image processing, and robotics. In addition to these applications, convex hulls are also used for optimization problems including linear programming, quadratic programming and integer programming. 

Algorithm for Calculating Convex Hulls

The algorithm for calculating convex hulls was first developed by mathematician Joseph O’Rourke in 1982 and is known as the Jarvis march or the gift-wrapping algorithm. The Jarvis march algorithm works by starting at a point on the boundary of the set of points and iteratively selecting points which minimize the angle formed with respect to previous points in order to form a convex hull. 

This iteration continues until all points have been included within the hull and there are no more points that can be added without forming concave edges. An alternative method for computing convex hulls is known as QuickHull and was developed by David Avis in 1987. Quickhull works by dividing a set of points into two groups based on their position relative to an existing line between two existing points on the hull. 

It then recursively evaluates each subset using the same process until all remaining points fall within a certain error threshold from existing vertices of the convex hull. This approach generally results in faster computation times than Jarvis march but has lower accuracy with respect to identifying concave edges if any exist within dataset. 

Advantages and Disadvantages

Convex hulls have many advantages, including their usefulness in computer graphics, computational geometry, and data analysis. One advantage of convex hulls is that they are easy to compute. 

There are several algorithms that can find the convex hull of a set of points in near-linear time, making them a practical tool for large datasets. Additionally, once the convex hull has been calculated, it can be used to solve other geometric problems, such as finding the intersection of two shapes or computing the area of a polygon. 

Another advantage of convex hulls is their simplicity. Unlike other geometric shapes, such as circles or ellipses, convex hulls have a straightforward definition and can be easily visualized. They are also intuitive to non-experts, making them a useful tool in communication and education. However, convex hulls also have some disadvantages. 

One is that they are sensitive to outliers. A single point that is far from the rest of the dataset can significantly affect the shape of the convex hull. This can make it difficult to use convex hulls in applications where the data may contain noisy or incomplete information. 

Another disadvantage of convex hulls is that they do not capture more complex geometric structures, such as holes or concavities. If the dataset contains such features, a convex hull may not provide a complete picture of the underlying geometry. In conclusion, while convex hulls have many advantages, they are not a one-size-fits-all solution for geometric problems. 

They are most useful when the data is relatively clean and the goal is to capture a simple, global shape. However, when dealing with more complex or noisy data, other geometric tools may be more appropriate.


In summary, convex hulls provide a way of efficiently representing sets of data points in a manner which can be easily visualized or manipulated computationally for optimization purposes or other applications. As such, they have become an integral tool across multiple disciplines where datasets may contain any combination of irregularly distributed data elements which need to be represented accurately and quickly.

Convex Hull

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