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Line Segment Intersections

The line segment intersection problem is a basic geometric problem. It asks to compute the set of intersections of a set S of line segments in the plane.
Two segments s1 and s2 intersect if they have at least one point in common. They overlap if they have more than one point in common. There is a proper intersection if the two segments share exactly one point and this point lies in the interior of both segments . A trivial segment is a segment of length 0.

On the right you see a set of 50 segments in the plane, the intesections are drawn in red. The picture is a screenshot from the example of line segment intersectionl.

Example of  Segment Intersection

Example of line segment intersection

The function

 void SEGMENT_INTERSECTION (const list<SEGMENT>& S,list<POINT>& P)

computes the intersections between the segments in S and returns all proper intersections in P.

We use the notation POINT (SEGMENT) to indicate that the algorithm works both for points (segments) and rat_points (rat_segments) . See also Writing Kernel Independent Code.

Remark: LEDA provides several variants for computing intersections between line segments using different algorithms and satisfying different output requirements. See the Manual Page of Geometry Algorithms and the LEDA Book for details.


  • computer aided design (CAD)
  • geographic information systems (GIS)
  • cartography

Different applications have different output requirements, e.g., return number of intersections, trigger an action for every pair of intersecting segments, compute graph induced by segments, compute trapezoid decomposition induced by the set of segments.

Representation of Intersecting Line Segments

The set of segments S induces an undirected graph U(S) as follows: Vertices of U(S) are all endpoints of segments in S and all proper intersection points between segments in S. Edges of U are the maximal relatively open and connected subsets of segments in S that contain no vertex of U(S). U(S) contains parallel edges if S contains segments that overlap.

LEDA represents U(S) by a directed graph G as follows.

  • G and U have the same set of nodes. Each node is labeled by its position in the plane.
  • The edges of G correspond to the edges in U.
    • If the algorithm does not compute an embedding (embed==false) there is exactly one edge in G for each edge of U. The edge is labeled by the segment in S containing it and inherits the direction from the segment.
    • If the algorithm computes an embedding (embed==true) G is a planar map. For each edge of U there are two edges in G that are reversals of each other. For each node v of G the cyclic list of edges out of v is counter-clockwise ordered.

See also:

Data Types for 2-D Geometry


Parameterized Graphs

Linear Lists

Windows and Panels

Writing Kernel Independent Code

Geometry Algorithms



Number Types

Manual Entries

Manual Page of Geometry Algorithms

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