Centripetal Catmull–Rom spline

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In computer graphics, centripetal Catmull–Rom spline is a variant form of Catmull-Rom spline [1] formulated by Edwin Catmull and Raphael Rom according to the work of Barry and Goldman.[2] It is a type of interpolating spline (a curve that goes through its control points) defined by four control points , with the curve drawn only from to .

Catmull–Rom spline interpolation with four points


Barry and Goldman's pyramidal formulation
Knot parameterization for the Catmull–Rom algorithm.

Let denote a point. For a curve segment defined by points and knot sequence , the centripetal Catmull-Rom spline can be produced by:



in which ranges from 0 to 1 for knot parameterization, and with . For centripetal Catmull-Rom spline, the value of is . When , the resulting curve is the standard Catmull-Rom spline (uniform Catmull-Rom spline); when , the product is a chordal Catmull-Rom spline.

Plugging into the spline equations and shows that the value of the spline curve at is . Similarly, substituting into the spline equations shows that at . This is true independent of the value of since the equation for is not needed to calculate the value of at points and .


Centripetal Catmull–Rom spline has several desirable mathematical properties compared to the original and the other types of Catmull-Rom formulation.[3] First, it will not form loop or self-intersection within a curve segment. Second, cusp will never occur within a curve segment. Third, it follows the control points more tightly.[vague]

In this figure, there is a self-intersection/loop on the uniform Catmull-Rom spline (green), whereas for chordal Catmull-Rom spline (red), the curve does not follow tightly through the control points.

Other uses[edit]

In computer vision, centripetal Catmull-Rom spline has been used to formulate an active model for segmentation. The method is termed active spline model.[4] The model is devised on the basis of active shape model, but uses centripetal Catmull-Rom spline to join two successive points (active shape model uses simple straight line), so that the total number of points necessary to depict a shape is less. The use of centripetal Catmull-Rom spline makes the training of a shape model much simpler, and it enables a better way to edit a contour after segmentation.

Code example in Python[edit]

The following is an implementation of the Catmull–Rom spline in Python.

import numpy
import pylab as plt

def CatmullRomSpline(P0, P1, P2, P3, nPoints=100):
  P0, P1, P2, and P3 should be (x,y) point pairs that define the Catmull-Rom spline.
  nPoints is the number of points to include in this curve segment.
  # Convert the points to numpy so that we can do array multiplication
  P0, P1, P2, P3 = map(numpy.array, [P0, P1, P2, P3])

  # Calculate t0 to t4
  alpha = 0.5
  def tj(ti, Pi, Pj):
    xi, yi = Pi
    xj, yj = Pj
    return ( ( (xj-xi)**2 + (yj-yi)**2 )**0.5 )**alpha + ti

  t0 = 0
  t1 = tj(t0, P0, P1)
  t2 = tj(t1, P1, P2)
  t3 = tj(t2, P2, P3)

  # Only calculate points between P1 and P2
  t = numpy.linspace(t1,t2,nPoints)

  # Reshape so that we can multiply by the points P0 to P3
  # and get a point for each value of t.
  t = t.reshape(len(t),1)
  A1 = (t1-t)/(t1-t0)*P0 + (t-t0)/(t1-t0)*P1
  A2 = (t2-t)/(t2-t1)*P1 + (t-t1)/(t2-t1)*P2
  A3 = (t3-t)/(t3-t2)*P2 + (t-t2)/(t3-t2)*P3
  B1 = (t2-t)/(t2-t0)*A1 + (t-t0)/(t2-t0)*A2
  B2 = (t3-t)/(t3-t1)*A2 + (t-t1)/(t3-t1)*A3

  C  = (t2-t)/(t2-t1)*B1 + (t-t1)/(t2-t1)*B2
  return C

def CatmullRomChain(P):
  Calculate Catmull Rom for a chain of points and return the combined curve.
  sz = len(P)

  # The curve C will contain an array of (x,y) points.
  C = []
  for i in range(sz-3):
    c = CatmullRomSpline(P[i], P[i+1], P[i+2], P[i+3])

  return C

# Define a set of points for curve to go through
Points = [[0,1.5],[2,2],[3,1],[4,0.5],[5,1],[6,2],[7,3]]

# Calculate the Catmull-Rom splines through the points
c = CatmullRomChain(Points)

# Convert the Catmull-Rom curve points into x and y arrays and plot
x,y = zip(*c)

# Plot the control points
px, py = zip(*Points)


Code example in Unity C#[edit]

using UnityEngine;
using System.Collections;
using System.Collections.Generic;

public class Catmul : MonoBehaviour {

    //Use the transforms of GameObjects in 3d space as your points or define array with desired points
	public Transform[] points;
	//Store points on the Catmull curve so we can visualize them
	List<Vector2> newPoints = new List<Vector2>();
	//How many points you want on the curve
	float amountOfPoints = 10.0f;
	//set from 0-1
	public float alpha = 0.5f;
	void Update()
	void CatmulRom()

		Vector2 p0 = points[0].position; // Vector3 has an implicit conversion to Vector2
		Vector2 p1 = points[1].position;
		Vector2 p2 = points[2].position;
		Vector2 p3 = points[3].position;

		float t0 = 0.0f;
		float t1 = GetT(t0, p0, p1);
		float t2 = GetT(t1, p1, p2);
		float t3 = GetT(t2, p2, p3);

		for(float t=t1; t<t2; t+=((t2-t1)/amountOfPoints))
		    Vector2 A1 = (t1-t)/(t1-t0)*p0 + (t-t0)/(t1-t0)*p1;
		    Vector2 A2 = (t2-t)/(t2-t1)*p1 + (t-t1)/(t2-t1)*p2;
		    Vector2 A3 = (t3-t)/(t3-t2)*p2 + (t-t2)/(t3-t2)*p3;
		    Vector2 B1 = (t2-t)/(t2-t0)*A1 + (t-t0)/(t2-t0)*A2;
		    Vector2 B2 = (t3-t)/(t3-t1)*A2 + (t-t1)/(t3-t1)*A3;
		    Vector2 C = (t2-t)/(t2-t1)*B1 + (t-t1)/(t2-t1)*B2;

	float GetT(float t, Vector2 p0, Vector2 p1)
	    float a = Mathf.Pow((p1.x-p0.x), 2.0f) + Mathf.Pow((p1.y-p0.y), 2.0f);
	    float b = Mathf.Pow(a, 0.5f);
	    float c = Mathf.Pow(b, alpha);
	    return (c + t);
	//Visualize the points
	void OnDrawGizmos()
	    Gizmos.color = Color.red;
	    foreach(Vector2 temp in newPoints)
	        Vector3 pos = new Vector3(temp.x, temp.y, 0);
	        Gizmos.DrawSphere(pos, 0.3f);

Note: If you need to implement it in 3d space with Vector3 points, just extend the float a in function GetT to this : Mathf.Pow((p1.x-p0.x), 2.0f) + Mathf.Pow((p1.y-p0.y), 2.0f) + Mathf.Pow((p1.z-p0.z), 2.0f); and convert all your Vectors2 to Vectors3.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Catmull, Edwin; Rom, Raphael (1974). "A class of local interpolating splines". In Barnhill, Robert E.; Riesenfeld, Richard F. Computer Aided Geometric Design. pp. 317–326. doi:10.1016/B978-0-12-079050-0.50020-5. ISBN 978-0-12-079050-0. 
  2. ^ Barry, Phillip J.; Goldman, Ronald N. (August 1988). A recursive evaluation algorithm for a class of Catmull–Rom splines (PDF). Proceedings of the 15st Annual Conference on Computer Graphics and Interactive Techniques, SIGGRAPH 1988. 22. Association for Computing Machinery. pp. 199–204. doi:10.1145/378456.378511. 
  3. ^ Yuksel, Cem; Schaefer, Scott; Keyser, John (July 2011). "Parameterization and applications of Catmull-Rom curves". Computer-Aided Design. 43: 747–755. doi:10.1016/j.cad.2010.08.008. 
  4. ^ Jen Hong, Tan; Acharya, U. Rajendra (2014). "Active spline model: A shape based model-interactive segmentation" (PDF). Digital Signal Processing. 35: 64–74. arXiv:1402.6387Freely accessible. doi:10.1016/j.dsp.2014.09.002. 

External links[edit]