Animation of Rotating Calipers

Rotating Calipers

"Geometry is the noblest branch of physics." - W. F. Osgood

The rotating calipers constitutes a powerful, simple and elegant tool that can solve many computational geometric problems efficiently in practice. The idea was first proposed by Michael Shamos in his Ph.D. thesis in 1978 for computing the diameter of a convex polygon. The animated gif above illustrates his idea. I coined the name "Rotating Calipers" for the procedure and generalized it to solve many other problems. In 1983 I presented some of these results at a conference in Athens, Greece in the following paper.
  • Godfried T. Toussaint, "Solving geometric problems with the rotating calipers," Proceedings of IEEE MELECON'83, Athens, Greece, May 1983.
  • Soon we will have a lot more here. In the mean time below are some more links. Also check out Orm's Rotating Caliper Page with lots of information, and animated gifs. The nice animated gif above was made by him. Orm's page also has links to his thesis which contains detailed proofs of the results in the above paper as well as many more results.

    "When the solution is simple, God is answering." - Albert Einstein

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