Terrain prickliness: theoretical grounds for low complexity viewsheds

Ankush Acharyya, Ramesh K. Jallu, Maarten Löffler, Gert G. T. Meijer, Maria Saumell, Rodrigo I. Silveira, Frank Staals, Hans Raj Tiwary

An important task when working with terrain models is computing viewsheds: the parts of the terrain visible from a given viewpoint. When the terrain is modeled as a polyhedral terrain, the viewshed is composed of the union of all the triangle parts that are visible from the viewpoint. The complexity of a viewshed can vary significantly, from constant to quadratic in the number of terrain vertices, depending on the terrain topography and the viewpoint position. In this work we study a new topographic attribute, the \emph{prickliness}, that measures the number of local maxima in a terrain from all possible perspectives. We show that the prickliness effectively captures the potential of 2.5D terrains to have high complexity viewsheds, and we present near-optimal algorithms to compute the prickliness of 1.5D and 2.5D terrains. We also report on some experiments relating the prickliness of real word 2.5D terrains to the size of the terrains and to their viewshed complexity.

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