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Algorithms to Automatically Quantify the Geometric Similarity of Anatomical Surfaces
PNAS, October 2011

Doug M. Boyer, Yaron Lipman, Elizabeth St. Clair,
Jesus Puente, Biren A. Patel, Thomas Funkhouser,
Jukka Jernvall, and Ingrid Daubechies


Observer-placed landmarks on one specimen can be propagated automatically to other specimens to facilitate inference about feature correspondences and objective measurement of geometric similarity.

Abstract

We describe approaches for distances between pairs of two-dimensional surfaces (embedded in three-dimensional space) that use local structures and global information contained in interstructure geometric relationships. We present algorithms to automatically determine these distances as well as geometric correspondences. This approach is motivated by the aspiration of students of natural science to understand the continuity of form that unites the diversity of life. At present, scientists using physical traits to study evolutionary relationships among living and extinct animals analyze data extracted from carefully defined anatomical correspondence points (landmarks). Identifying and recording these landmarks is time consuming and can be done accurately only by trained morphologists. This necessity renders these studies inaccessible to nonmorphologists and causes phenomics to lag behind genomics in elucidating evolutionary patterns. Unlike other algorithms presented for morphological correspondences, our approach does not require any preliminary marking of special features or landmarks by the user. It also differs from other seminal work in computational geometry in that our algorithms are polynomial in nature and thus faster, making pairwise comparisons feasible for significantly larger numbers of digitized surfaces. We illustrate our approach using three datasets representing teeth and different bones of primates and humans, and show that it leads to highly accurate results.

Citation (BibTeX)

Doug M. Boyer, Yaron Lipman, Elizabeth St. Clair, Jesus Puente, Biren A. Patel, Thomas Funkhouser, Jukka Jernvall, and and Ingrid Daubechies. Algorithms to Automatically Quantify the Geometric Similarity of Anatomical Surfaces. PNAS, October 2011.

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