Capturing the Shape of a Point Set with a Line Segment


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Detecting location-correlated groups in point sets is an important task in a wide variety of applications areas. In addition to merely detecting such groups, the group's shape carries meaning as well. In this paper, we represent a group's shape using a simple geometric object, a line segment. Specifically, given a radius r, we say a line segment is representative of a point set P if it is within distance r of each point p ∈ P. We aim to find the shortest such line segment. This problem is equivalent to stabbing a set of circles of radius r using the shortest line segment. We describe an algorithm to find the shortest representative segment in O(n log h + h log^3 h) time. Additionally, we show how to maintain a stable approximation of the shortest representative segment when the points in P move.
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