I’m still struggling with your notion of a „valid“ polygon: E.g., a polygon that contains spikes does not satisfy the is_valid(…) predicate. Consequently, this seems to imply that spikes do not carry any information at all and can be removed without harm. Of course, this may depend on the application domain, but for the purpose of this discussion, let’s stick with the notion used for boost::geometry. I’d just like to see your explicit confirmation, or have my understanding corrected.


Corollary: If for some multi-polygon P, is_valid(remove_spikes(P)) holds, then for all purposes of boost::geometry, remove_spikes(P) is equivalent to P.


Corollary: For all purposes of boot::geometry, all polygons that only consist of spikes are equivalent to each other and are equivalent to the empty multi-polygon.


Let’s once again look at the difference(…) algorithm, and let’s assume the following two geometries, which satisfy the is_valid(…) predicate. Note that _intPolygon is a model for boost::geometry::multi_polygon, and _intRect is a model for boost::geometry::box. _intPolygon is oriented couter-clockwise and not closed, points are based on int.


_intPolygon polygonA;

boost::geometry::read_wkt("MULTIPOLYGON(((1 1,1000 2,2 2,1000 3,1 3,1 1)))", polygonA);

_ASSERT( boost::geometry::is_valid(polygonA) ); // holds


_intRect rectB;

boost::geometry::read_wkt("BOX(1 1,900 4)", rectB);

_ASSERT( boost::geometry::is_valid(rectB) ); // holds


_intPolygon polygonC;

boost::geometry::difference(polygonA, rectB, polygonC);


The resulting multi-polygon polygonC is the empty multi-polygon. This is consistent with the above: The part of the polygon, that is left after the difference operation, is mathematically non-empty, but in its int representation it is a spike, and thus is removed entirely.


On the other hand, the result seems to be at odds with the fact that boost::geometry::covered_by(polygonA, rectB) returns false. (Note: As of 1.57.0, covered_by is not implemented for polygon and box, so for this test I converted the box to a polygon. I assume that this doesn’t affect the argument of this discussion.) As far as I understand, that’s “by design” in boost::geometry.


Is my understanding correct so far?


Now, let’s try to apply this to the problem I have to solve in my application. Let’s consider a the degenerated box that we already know from the discussion about “access violation”.


_intRect rectB;

boost::geometry::read_wkt("BOX(417 2064,597 2064)", rectB);


This box does not satisfy the is_valid(…) predicate. Let’s still convert it to a multi-polygon:


_intPolygon polygonB;

boost::geometry::convert(rectB, polygonB);


The resulting polygon is MULTIPOLYGON(((417 2064,597 2064,597 2064,417 2064))). The polygon does not satisfy is_valid(…) neither.

Question: Shouldn’t the convert operation actually yield the empty multi-polygon?


Anyway, let’s try to fix what we have:




The resulting polygon is MULTIPOLYGON(((417 2064))). Still, the polygon does not satisfy is_valid(…).

Again, shouldn’t the remove_spikes operation actually yield the empty multi-polygon?


If this is not the way to turn a polygon with spikes into valid input for boost::geometry algorithms, then how should I do it instead?


Is boost::geometry::area(polygonB)==0 a proper way to determine if a polygon with spikes is properly represented by the empty multi-polygon? This seems dubious to me: The result of area(…) will be flawed with rounding error and may or may not be accurately 0. Thus, how do I properly determine if a given multi-polygon that potentially contains spikes is equivalent to the empty multi-polygon?


Given all of the above, it seems pretty natural to use boost::geometry’s own equals(…) algorithm for this purpose: “The free function equals checks if the first geometry is spatially equal the second geometry. Spatially equal means that the same point set is included. […]”



Unfortunately, boost::geometry::equals(MULTIPOLYGON(((417 2064,597 2064,597 2064,417 2064))), MULTIPOLYGON()) yields false. Why is that? Does the equals(…) algorithm require that the input does not contain spikes? I don’t see this in the documentation. Is this the expected behavior of this algorithm? If so, what would be a correct way of determining if a polygon is a spike-only polygon?




Volker Schöch | vschoech@think-cell.com
Senior Software Engineer

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