An experimental study of point location in planar arrangements in CGAL

Idit Haran*, Dan Halperin

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We study the performance in practice of various point-location algorithms implemented in CGAL (the Computational Geometry Algorithms Library), including a newly devised landmarks algorithm. Among the other algorithms studied are: a näve approach, a "walk along a line" strategy, and a trapezoidal decomposition-based search structure. The current implementation addresses general arrangements of planar curves, including arrangements of nonlinear segments (e.g., conic arcs) and allows for degenerate input (for example, more than two curves intersecting in a single point or overlapping curves). The algorithms use exact geometric computation and thus result in the correct point location. In our landmarks algorithm (a.k.a. jump & walk), special points, "landmarks," are chosen in a preprocessing stage, their place in the arrangement is found, and they are inserted into a data structure that enables efficient nearest-neighbor search. Given a query point, the nearest landmark is located and a "walk" strategy is applied from the landmark to the query point. We report on various experiments with arrangements composed of line segments or conic arcs. The results indicate that compared to the other algorithms tested, the landmarks approach is the most efficient, when the overall (amortized) cost of a query is taken into account, combining both preprocessing and query time. The simplicity of the algorithm enables an almost straightforward implementation and rather easy maintenance. The generic programming implementation allows versatility both in the selected type of landmarks and in the choice of the nearest-neighbor search structure. The end result is an efficient point-location algorithm that bypasses the alternative CGAL implementations in most practical aspects.

Original languageEnglish
Article number3
JournalJournal of Experimental Algorithmics
StatePublished - 1 Sep 2008


  • Arrangements
  • CGAL
  • Computational geometry
  • Generic programming
  • Point location


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