Discrete Differential Operators on Polygonal Meshes

Fernando de Goes, Andrew Butts, Mathieu Desbrun


Geometry processing of surface meshes relies heavily on the discretization of differential operators such as gradient, Laplacian, and covariant derivative. While a variety of discrete operators over triangulated meshes have been developed and used for decades, a similar construction over polygonal meshes remains far less explored despite the prevalence of non-simplicial surfaces in geometric design and engineering applications. This paper introduces a principled construction of discrete differential operators on surface meshes formed by (possibly non-flat and non-convex) polygonal faces. Our approach is based on a novel mimetic discretization of the gradient operator that is linear-precise on arbitrary polygons. Equipped with this discrete gradient, we draw upon ideas from the Virtual Element Method in order to derive a series of discrete operators commonly used in graphics that are now valid over polygonal surfaces. We demonstrate the accuracy and robustness of our resulting operators through various numerical examples, before incorporating them into existing geometry processing algorithms.

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