Group Title: Department of Computer and Information Science and Engineering Technical Reports
Title: A Parallel algorithm for surface triangulation
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Title: A Parallel algorithm for surface triangulation
Series Title: Department of Computer and Information Science and Engineering Technical Reports
Physical Description: Book
Language: English
Creator: Johnson, Theodore
Livadas, Panos E.
Talele, Sunjay E.
Publisher: Department of Computer and Information Science, University of Florida
Place of Publication: Gainesville, Fla.
Publication Date: March 31, 1993
Copyright Date: 1993
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Bibliographic ID: UF00095174
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: University of Florida
Holding Location: University of Florida
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A Parallel Algorithm For Surface Triangulation

Theodore Johnson, Panos E. Livadas, Sunjay E. Talele
Dept. of Computer and Information Science
University of Florida

March 31, 1993

In many scientific fields, three dimensional surfaces must be reconstructed from a given collection
of its surface points. Applications for surface reconstruction exist in medical research and diagnosis
as well as in design intensive disciplines. Fuchs, Kedem, and Uselton and Keppel show that surface
reconstruction via triangulation can be reduced to the problem of finding a path in a toroidal graph.
This paper presents a parallel algorithm to find the minimum cost acceptable path in an m by n toroidal
graph. We then show an implementation of the parallel algorithm on a parallel architecture, using a
message passing approach. Results are shown, along with suggestions for future enhancements.

1 Introduction

The problem of surface reconstruction is important in many scientific disciplines, such as medical research

and diagnosis, architecture, and in geometric design. For instance, light microscopes capable of high mag-

nifications are monocular, and thus can only generate cross sections of an object. Given a set of these

cross sections, the three-dimensional surface must be reconstructed. Similarly, human organs can be recon-

structed from cross-sectional X-rays (tomographs), and terrain surfaces can be reconstructed from survey


Consider a collection of a surfaces' parallel cross sections, as shown in Figure 1. Each cross section is

defined by a finite set of points along the boundary of ia contour. We can approximate the surface by a

collection of triangles between any two successive contours as shown in Figure 2. These triangles, which

we will call tiles, are formed by two vertices on one contour and one vertex on the other contour. Keppel

[Kep75] shows that, if two consecutive contours consist of m and n vertices, respectively, then the number

of tile arrangements is T, where

(m + n)!
T(m, n) (m + n)!
(m 1)!(n 1)!
For n = m = 12 points, we obtain approximately 108 different tile combinations, and therefore different

surface shapes. Thus, an exhaustive search is unacceptable.

Previously, Keppel [Kep75] and Fuchs et al. [FKU77] have shown that the problem of finding an optimal

triangular arrangement can be reduced to finding a minimum cost path in a directed toroidal graph, which

/z 7

Figure 1: Intersection of surface by three planes.

can be solved by Dijkstra's algorithm. In this paper, we present a dynamic programming solution to the
triangular arrangement problem. We map the toroidal graph to a planar graph, whose structure we exploit
to form a parallel algorithm, suitable for a message-passing parallel architecture. An implementation is
presented, along with optimizations and an analysis of the speedup obtained.

2 Previous And Related Work

Previous techniques for extracting surface geometries from volume data essentially fall into three categories:
defining surfaces from contour data (contour stitching), defining surfaces from sampled data (surface con-
struction), and geometrically deformable models. Keppel [Kep75] and Fuchs et al. [FKU77] proposed an
optimal approximation of a three-dimensional surface from a set of cross sections using triangulation. The
optimal surface was determined by finding a path in a directed toroidal graph. Keppel [Kep75] defined an
optimal surface to be an acceptable surface represented by the maximal weighted path, thus maximizing the
enclosed volume of the surface. Fuchs et al. [FKU77], on the other hand, sought the minimum weighted
path, thus finding the minimum surface area of the polyhedron formed by the triangular mesh. Christiansen
and Sederberg [CS78] pointed out that heuristics work best in these methods when contour pairs are similar
in size and shape, and are mutually centered. Furthermore, dissimilar contour pairs can be transformed such
that they are "normalized", and subsequent heuristics produce good results.

Figure 2: A pair of contours connected with triangles to form a surface.

The above contour stitching methods work well for the simple case of a single closed contour on each slice,

but not as well in the case of branching. Branching occurs when either a single contour splits into several

contours, or several contours merge into a single contour. Christiansen and Sederberg [CS78] and Anjyo et

al. [AOUK87] proposed transforming each pair of adjacent serial sections into a number of simple cases. In

more complex cases, human interaction would be required. This may be unacceptable in some cases, such

as a clinical environment, where user interaction should be minimal.

Lin, Chen, and Chen [LCC('-'] connected two-dimensional cross sections using dynamic elastic contour

interpolation, spline theory, and quadratic variation-based surface interpolation [LCC('-'], rather than the

contour stitching methods of the above algorithms. A series of intermediate contours are formed between each

of the original cross sections using elastic interpolation. Then, contours are mapped to a surface function,

to calculate initial surface values. These surface values are then refined by quadratic variation-based surface

interpolation to produce the final surface representation.

The second method of surface reconstruction involves creating surface geometries from regularly spaced

data values in a three-dimensional grid. Typically, data from MRI magneticc resonance imaging), CT (X

ray computed tomography), and SPECT (single photon emission computed tomography) scans are provided

in this grid format. A surface may be defined as a set of points with a given value. For instance, data points

from a CT scan may have values corresponding to tissue density. Since bone has a different density than the

soft tissue around it, the boundary between the densities represents the surface of the bone.

These grid-oriented methods examine a I..." for which the data value at each corner is known. The

corner values are compared with the desired surface value. If a given cube has at least one corner value

above the desired value and one corner below the desired value, we know the surface exists in the cube. If

we scale the corner values by subtracting the desired surface value, then the value of the desired data set is

zero. So, for any cube edge, if the signs of the endpoints are opposite, then the surface must pass through

that edge. The precise location of the surface vertex is determined by assuming the values along a cube edge

linearly interpolate the cube corners. Furthermore, if the surface intersects edge(s) of a cube face, then the

surface must intersect the cube face also.

Lorensen and Cline [LC87], Wyvill et al. [WMW86], and Bloomenthal [Blo88] all use a variation of

this method. Bloomenthal [Blo88] uses an algorithmic approach in determining surface vertices, while the

other two methods are table-driven. Bloomenthal's method [Blo88] also allows for more sampling around

particular areas of a surface, allowing for a better surface fit in some cases. The method of Wyvill et al.

[WMW86] considers the cube corner values of each face. There are only seven combinations of cube values

for a given face. Lorensen and Cline's [LC87] marching cubes algorithm, on the other hand, examines the

values of all the cube corners.

This set of algorithms does not suffer from the branching problem because the entire surface is extracted

in the volume. These methods, are however, restricted to generating models in which elements are at most

the size of a voxel (volume element), which makes approximating the data impossible. Also, these methods

are incapable of generating a closed model of an object which is not necessarily closed, such as the interior

of an open bottle. Note that these cube methods are appropriate only when dealing with grid data. In the

case of contour data, triangulation methods will me more efficient.

The third method of constructing surface geometries from volume data is geometrically deformable models

(GDMs) [M+91]. This method differs from the previous two in that it attempts to approximate, rather than

interpolate the surface. The motivation behind GDMs is that a geometric approximation provides more

opportunities for analyzing and visualizing the object than interpolative methods.

Geometrically deformable models are created by placing a -. ." model inside of a volume data set.

The model is deformed by a set of relaxation processes which adheres to a set of constraints that provide a

measure of how well the model fits the data. These models can be thought of as semi-permeable balloons

placed inside a scanned object. The balloon is expanded until its surface reaches the boundaries of the

scanned object. The balloon is, in reality, a polygonal mesh. Volume data are sampled only at the vertices

of these polygons. Cost functions associated with the model constraints are placed at these vertices as well.

Geometrically deformable models, like the cube algorithms from the previous section, handle the branch-

ing problem explicitly by treating a collection of 2D cross sections as a true 3D data set. Since sampled data

is treated by placing geometric relationships on models, GDMs are highly adaptive, thus handling elements

of noise favorably, and providing for varying levels of detail.

The appropriate technique for reconstructing an surface from the points on the surface depends on the

nature of the input data and the desired form of the output. In this paper, we will examine the first

reconstruction method, contour stitching, and explore the possibility of speeding up previous attempts via

parallel processing. Contour stitching is appropriate when the input is a set of points on the surface, and

the desired output is a tiling of the surface.

3 Definition Of The Problem

Consider an unknown three-dimensional surface intersected by a collection of planes. Each plane contains a

simple closed curve, which is defined by a finite sequence of points. Any two consecutive points are connected

by a contour segment. The collection of contour segments which form the polygonal approximation of the

curve is called a contour.

We review the notation used by Fuchs et al. [FKU77]. Let one contour, C1, be defined by the sequence of

m contour points Po, P1, P, .. ., P,-1, and let another contour, C2, be defined by the sequence of n contour

points Qo, Q1, Q2, ., Q,-1. A positive ordering exists for each set of points. That is, P1 follows Po, P2

follows P1, and, in general, Pi+l follows Pi where the + is the addition modulo m operator. Similarly, Qj+i

follows Qj where + is the addition modulo n operator.

As mentioned previously, we form the surface between any two successive contours using triangular tiles.

The triangle will have two vertices on one contour and one vertex on the other contour. Thus each tile is of

the form {Qi, Q Pj} or {Pi, Pk, Qj}. Fuchs, et al. [FKU77] makes the observation that any tile of the form

above can be reduced to a sequence of elementary tiles without changing the approximating surface. An

elementary tile is defined to be a triangle whose form is either {Pi, P(1+1)mod m, Qj} or {Qj, Q(j+l)mod n, Pi}

(see figure 3). An edge that connects an end of a contour segment on C1 with an end of a contour segment

on C2 is called a span. Thus, an elementary tile is composed of two spans and a contour segment.

P Pi P (i+ od m

S +1) modn n

Figure 3: Elementary tiles.

A given set of elementary tiles can be represented by a directed, weighted, toroidal graph, G = (V E,).

Vertices in G correspond to spans, while edges correspond to tiles. We define V and E as follows:

V= {v G : v = vj i= 0,1,2,...,(m-1);j= 0,1,2,...,(n-1)}

E= {ej e: = vijvi,(j+1) mod n } U {eiJ : eyj Vi,jV(i+1) modn,j

for i = 0, 1, 2,...,(m 1) and j = 0, 1, 2, . ., (n 1)

Furthermore, we associate a weight, w, with each edge of G, representing the "quality" of each tile. An

acceptable path is defined to be a closed path with initial vertex vio such that the path contains exactly one

horizontal edge between any two adjacent columns and exactly one vertical edge between any two adjacent

rows. This property ensures that the surface defined by the acceptable path will fit together and thus form

an acceptable surface, as well as a complete surface. Now let P(i) denote the set of all acceptable paths at i.


Q3 P3

QO "0Q2oP4


Figure 4: Contours and an associated toroidal directed graph.


3 Q0 Q1 Q2 Q3 Qo
P' C P2 P ,


Figure 5: Elementary tiles along with their respective edges in a toroidal graph.

Note that if 7r E P(i), the length of tr is equal to (m + n). An acceptable path is either a vertex-simple cycle,

or consists of two vertex-simple cycles that share one vertex. Figure 6 illustrates a toroidal graph (m = 5,

n = 6) where two acceptable paths at i = 2 are highlighted.

Next, we define the cost of path, 7r to be the sum of the weight of the edges in 7r. We define the minimum

cost path at i, pL(i), to be the path among all 7r E P(i) such that cost is minimized. Finally, let PG be the

minimal cost path among all p's.

3.1 Mapping the Toroidal Graph to a Planar Graph

By cutting G open and gluing two copies of G together we obtain a new planar graph G'(V', E', w'), as

illustrated in Figure 7. By transforming the toroidal graph to a planar graph, our original problem has

become the following:

V0,0 0,0
V1,0 1 : -: : v,0

3 4 5 9 1
V3,0 V3,0
V b -

V0,1 0,2 0,3 0,4 0,n-1
--- O~-l

1 2 8 9 10 11


m m-1,0 1 I I m-1,0 1

(1) (11)

Figure 6: A toroidal graph and two acceptable paths at i = 2.

Find the minimum cost path r'(i) among all simple paths with initial vertex at .',, and terminal vertex

at v +i) ii E AM. Then the minimum cost path p', of G' is the one among all r'(i)'s (i E M) of minimum


For the remainder of the paper, we shall deal with the planar graph only.

3.2 Non-crossing Paths

Assume p(i) and p(j) are two minimal cost acceptable paths at vi,o and vjo, respectively. If i < j, then p(i)

does not cross pt(j). That is, 1p(i) lies entirely Il...- ." pi(j) but may still have common vertices and edges

with p(j). This can be seen by observing Figure 8. Paths Po and P1 are shown going through points A and

B. The two routes from A to B are ACB and ADB. There are three cases:

The cost of the path ACB is greater than the cost of ADB. In this case, P1 should follow ADB.

The cost of the path ACB is less than the cost of ADB. In this case, Po should follow ACB.

The cost of the paths, ACB and ADB, are equal. In this case, we can replace one of the two paths

with the other path.

We can see that the determination of the path PG can be done as follows. First, we determine the path

p(0) (Fig. 9(i)). Now, p(m) is a copy of p(0) which starts at m,,o and ends at v(m+m)), (Fig. 9(ii)). Since

paths do not cross, the calculation of all other paths p(1), p(2), ..., p(m 1), can be restricted to the

subgraph of G that is obtained by I,..-..,, off" the portion of the graph G lying above p(O) and the

portion below p(m). The shaded areas in Figure 9(iii) represent the chopped off portions of the graph.

Suppose that instead of calculating p(1) after calculating p(0), we calculate p(m/2). Now, the paths

p(i), i = 1... m/2 1 can be calculated in the subgraph bounded by p(O) and p(m/2).

V0,1 V0,2 V0,3










1 2

3 4 5




-b 2 2: 2

Figure 7: Mapping the toroidal graphs in Figure 2.4 to planar graphs. The images of the two acceptable
paths in Figure 2.4 (i) and (ii) are shown in (i) and (ii), respectively.

The regions formed by chopping off subgraphs can also be divided into finer pieces, resulting in a

quicksort-type algorithm. Fuchs et al. [FKU77] show that this algorithm reduces the time to compute

the minimum cost acceptable path from mT(m, n) to T(m, n) log(m), where T(m, n) is the time to solve the

single source shortest path problem on a toroidal graph. Below is the pseudocode for the serial version of

this algorithm.




Figure 8: Non-crossing paths.











Vo0,1 V0,2 V0,3

V0,4 V0,n-l V0,n

1 2



8 9 10 11

-b -
-b -; -:

V0,4 Vo,n-l Vo,n

'1 2 V 3 V 4 ,n1 ,n
0,1 0,2 0,3 0,4 O,n-l O,n





m 0



V2m,O .






V 4



0,1 0,2 0,3 0,4 On- O,n

v' v' v' v' v' V'
0,1 0,2 0,3 0,4 O,n-l O,n


Figure 9: Restricting G to the subgraph obtained by removing the portions above p(O) and below p(m).

Serial Algorithm

shortestpath(G) {
PO = findonepath(G,0)
{P,. .,Pm}=findallpaths(G' ,,m)
return(min(PO,. .,Pm))


findallpaths(G,pathlo,pathhi) {
if(pathlo Pm=findonepath(G,m)
Plo=findallpaths(restrict(G above Pm),pathlo,m-1)
Phi=findallpaths(restrict(G below Pm)m+l,pathhi)


4 Parallelizing The Solution

In the serial algorithm, after path pt((i+j)/2) is found, G can be divided into two smaller subgraphs. These

are independent subtasks, so after finding the path p((i + j)/2), we can find the paths p(i + 1),..., p((i +

j)/2 1) and p((i + j)/2 + 1), ..., p(j 1) in parallel. This leads to a divide and conquer type algorithm,

as is illustrated in Figure 10.

As with a parallel quicksort algorithm, this algorithm will be efficient only if we can find a single path





m, 0



Figure 10: Divide and conquer method of computing paths.

efficiently in parallel. Consider the problem of finding the shortest path from a node s to another node t in

the graph G. Let us refer to the nodes by their grid coordinates (x, y). Assume that s is at (0, 0) and t is

at (i, j). The edges in G only go down or to the right, never up or left. Therefore, all paths to (i, j) must

travel through either (i 1, j) or (i, j 1), as shown in Figure 11. If we let P(i, j) be the minimum weight

path from (0, 0) to (i,j) and let C(i, j) be the cost of that path, then

C(i, j) = min(C(i 1, j) + w((i 1, j), (i, j)), C(i, j 1) + w((i, j 1), (i, j)))

Furthermore, P(i, j) is either P(i- 1, j)l((i 1, j), (i, j)) or P(i, j 1)1((i, j 1), (i, j)), depending on which

path has lower cost.


Figure 11: Dynamic programming calculation of the shortest path.

Calculating the minimum cost path thus reduces to a dynamic programming problem, iterating across

all (i, j) such that i + j = k, for all k between 0 and 2n, as shown in Figure 12. The parallelization is to

split up the iteration for each diagonal in the graph represented by a particular value of k.

For load balancing, each processor should be responsible for the same number of nodes along a diago-

nal. Also, to minimize messages between nodes, the nodes for which a processor is responsible should be

k=O k=1 k=2 k=3 k=4 k=5 k6

Figure 12: Dynamic programming iterating across all k.

contiguous. Figure 13 shows the distribution of nodes based on these considerations. These considerations

lead to the algorithm given below. Note the algorithm does not include the actual computation for finding

the shortest path. It is merely a control structure to allocate computations to the appropriate processors.

--- -------

- - - - - -


Figure 13: Allocation of nodes to processors.

Parallel Algorithm

/* find the shortest path in 2m x n G using p processors */
PO = findonepath(G;1,p;0)

if(pathlo Pm=findonepath(G; prlo,prhi; m)
if(prlo /* Next line is graph splitting criteria */
/* n_pr_lo = number of processors to allocate to lower subgraph */
n_prlo= [(prlo + prhi)/2] 1
findallpaths(restrict(G below Pm),prlo,prlo+n-prlo,m+1,pathhi)
findallpaths(restrict(G above Pm),prlo+n_prlo+l,prhi,pathlo,m-1)

findallpaths(restrict(G above Pm),prlo,prlo,pathlo,m-1)
findallpaths(restrict(G below Pm),prlo,prlo,m+1,pathhi)

5 Implementation

We have implemented the above parallel algorithm on a BBN TC2('II II parallel computer. Each node in the

TC'IIIIII consists of a Motorola 88100 RISC CPU and 88200 cache/memory management units. Interprocessor

communication was accomplished via message queues, which had to be simulated on the shared memory


Various issues needed to be considered in the implementation of the above algorithm. Data distribution,

computational responsibilities, coordination, and synchronization all needed to be addressed. We used a

master-slave paradigm to implement the above parallel algorithm. The master runs the above parallel

control structure algorithm, while the slaves accept compute requests sent to them by the master. We begin,

then, by downloading the compute task to each of the slave nodes. Next, we allocate globally visible message

queues, so that the nodes may communicate with each other as well as the master (coordinator) node.

We start a computation by distributing the contour points Po, P1, P2 ., P- 1, and Qo, Q1, Q2, *., n-1

for two successive contours. We use the area of the elementary tile represented by an edge as the weight for

that edge. Note that from this information, the weight of any edge eij in the 2m x n graph G may be


Each processor must know the part of the graph for which it is responsible as illustrated in Figure 13.

Processors split (as equally as possible) the nodes along a diagonal. Each processor uses the same algorithm

to determine which graph nodes it is responsible for. Hence, the node responsibility information is implicit,

and does not require any interprocessor communication or intervention from the master processor. All

communication in Figure 13 takes place across the dotted lines. Recall that the edges in the graph are

directed only to the right and down. A processor responsible for the node directly to one side of a dotted

line will have to wait for another processor to send cost information for the node directly to the other side

of the dotted line. Similarly, a processor determines when it needs to send information about a node it is

calculating to another processor.

To determine which processor is responsible for a particular node, we must first calculate the number of

nodes, nk, that lie at the same manhattan distance k as the node in question. We define the position of a

node to be the order of the node on the diagonal. The node positioned at the upper-left of the diagonal is

at position 1, while the node at the bottom right of the diagonal is at position nk. Denote the total number

of processors by p, and the processor number by i. Then processors PI,, P,. ..Pp are responsible for nodes

[NjV_ + 1..Ni], where No = 0 and N = kN_ + N 1.
Another issue is that of recovering the shortest path after the cost of the shortest path has been found.

At each node, we tag the node with the entering edge, which represents the last edge of the shortest path

to the node. Calculating the shortest path now consists of backtracking from the terminal node to the start

node. Figure 14 shows an example of recovering a path. Note that backtracking (shown as arrows) may

involve crossing processor boundaries, so all slave nodes involved in the computation of the path must be

prepared to cooperate in the backtracking process as well.



Figure 14: Backtracking to recover shortest path.

After each slave processor finishes processing the graph nodes it is responsible for, the slave waits for

backtracking messages from other slaves. The slave node which is responsible for the terminal node of the

path initiates the backtracking process. As each processor backtracks within its own subgraph boundaries,

it sends the portion of the path it is responsible for to the master. Once a node is reached that is not the

processor's responsibility, control is passed to the appropriate processor. The processor then goes back to

waiting for a backtrack messages since, the path may cross into a processor's responsibility region more than

once, as shown in Figure 14.

The master knows when it has received all nodes in a given path when it receives the start node of

the path. Upon receiving the last node, the master sends terminate messages to all processors involved in

computing the path, so that the slave processors can stop waiting for any more backtrack messages. The

slaves can then return to soliciting new compute requests.

Upon receiving a computed path from the slave nodes, the master node must determine what part of

the graph to "chop off". The computed path will replace one of the old bounding paths for a slave node,

depending on whether the slave will work on paths above or below the path just computed. Thus, the slaves

should be informed of the new bounding path by the master.

The slave nodes know the dimensions of the graph G to be 2m x n, from the initial distribution of

contour points. To determine what part of a subgraph is to be worked on, we only need to store the top

and bottom boundaries of G. We denote by M the set of non-negative integers bounded above by 2m. We

define T and B to be the top and bottom boundaries, respectively, of graph G, that is

T = {ti M;0O< i< n}, B = {bi M; 0

Thus, to update the bounding paths of a calculation, the master only need send T or B to the slave nodes,

not the entire graph. Figure 15 shows a sample subgraph, and the corresponding boundaries.

V' v' v' v' v' v'
0,1 0,2 0,3 0,4 0,n- 0,n

v I m=5

v3, 0

m,0 T [-3 T=[ 0 1 2 3 3 5]

v' B=[5 6 7 8 810100 ]



Figure 15: Graph boundaries.

The shortest path among Pi must be determined at the end of the computations. In the case where more

than one processor is working on a given path, the path will have to be sent to the master for the purposes

of graph splitting. Thus, after the master splits the graph, it can compare the path to previous paths found

and discard the more expensive one.

In the case where only one processor is working on a path, the path need not be sent back to the master.

At this point, the single processor is working in a region which is solely its responsibility. Here, the single

processor compares the calculated path with the others it has found so far. After the single processor has

finished calculating the paths it is responsible for, it sends the least cost path to the master.

6 Results

Figure 16 shows the execution speedups for the parallel algorithm using a pair of contours, consisting of 100,

200, 300, 400, and 500 points, respectively. Since calculation of pairwise contours are independent of each

other, examining a single pair is sufficient for measuring the performance of our algorithm. For simplicity,

we have used the same number of contour points for each contour, (m = n). The contours were generated

in a somewhat random fashion, to produce more realistic results.

Note the slight performance degradation between one and two processors. In the one processor case, a

master and slave were on the same CPU, while in the two processor case, they were on different CPUs. The

degradation is due to the message overhead between the CPUs. In all other processor configurations, one

processor was reserved for use as a master.

The large drop in election times from 2 to 3 processors is expected, since two slave nodes are participating

in the computation rather than one. Note the small change between using 3 and 4 processors, as well as

between 5 and 6 processors. Currently, we allocate half of the processors to each subgraph. Therefore, in

the case of say, 3 slave processors, processor 1 will still compute half of the graph, while processors 2 and 3

compute the other half. In this case, processor 1 is responsible for roughly the same amount of computation

as in the 2 slave processor case, thus increasing the 3 processor case's execution time to roughly that of the

2 processor case. This suggests a better heuristic is needed to allocate processors to subgraphs.

Also, note that the speedup begins to diminish as you increase the number of processors, and actually

begins to degrade at about 12 processors. This is mostly due to the shared memory architecture on which

the algorithm was implemented. A large amount of message overhead was incurred by the excessive traffic

created by sending messages between processors in the shared memory architecture. The algorithm is better

suited to a true memory-passing architecture, which, in our case, had to be simulated.

Figure 6 shows an example of the input and output of our algorithm. On the left is the set of contours

which represents a glass and is input to the algorithm. On the right the derived surface by the algorithm is


7 Optimizations

The results given in the previous chapter are from using the parallel algorithm. Several optimizations can

be made to both reduce message passing and storage.





6 -

4 .. ..---- 500 points
-..- .... 350 points
2 -.: 200 points
50 points

2 4 6 8 10 12 14 16
Number of processors

Figure 16: Speedup using parallel algorithm (without optimizations).

7.1 Processor allocation heuristic

In the original description of the algorithm, the processor allocation criteria is based solely on the number

of paths in the computation. That is, we define n_pr_lo in the parallel algorithm given above to be [(prlo +

prhi)/2] 1. As mentioned previously, the divide-and-conquer nature of our algorithm will lead to an

irregularly shaped grid as the one shown in Figure 17. In this case, the number of paths is not a true

indication of the work to be done in a particular subgraph. For better load balancing, we split the graph

based on the number of nodes to be calculated in a subgraph. Namely, the number of processors assigned

to calculate paths above P, should be proportional to the number of graph nodes above Pm.

We define W1o to be the subgraph in which the paths p(pathlo) through p(m 1) will be found, and we

define Whi similarly. Our load balancing mechanism is based on the sizes of W1o and Whi, respectively. We

now change the graph splitting criteria in the parallel algorithm to:

n_prlo = (prhi-prlo+1) IWo\ / (IW I + IWhi ))

Figure 18 shows the speedups obtained with by applying this heuristic, using the same input data sets

as in Figure 16.

(a) Glass contours

Figure 17: Input and output of the algorithm.

7.2 Minimizing messages along a diagonal

Another consideration of our algorithm is the tradeoff between parallelism and message passing. For instance,

if we have a diagonal consisting of n nodes and we have n processors, will the parallelism of assigning one

node to each processor overcome the message passing overhead? For this purpose, it may be better to

require that a processor be responsible for at least d nodes along a diagonal in order to reduce the number

of messages passed.

If p processors are participating the computation for a given diagonal calculated in the graph, then exactly

2(p 1) messages will be needed. Two messages will be needed at each processor boundary (one sent, one

received), as illustrated in Figure 19. If we denote m to be the cost of each message, c to be the cost of

calculating a given node, and d to be the number of nodes along the diagonal, then the following holds:

Sd is the amount of time for p processors to calculate the d nodes along the diagonal.

2m(p 1) is the message cost involved in calculating the diagonal with p processors

Thus, the total time to calculate the diagonal is d + 2m(p 1). To find the optimal number of processor,

(b) Glass surface

Figure 18: Irregularly shaped graph created by graph splitting.

p, with parameters d, m, and c, we minimize the time with respect to p, and find the optimal number of

processors to be \ (. Note that this is a pessimistic approach, and assumes that only one message can be

sent in the system at one time.

Figure 20 shows execution times for processing two contours, each consisting of 500 contour points.

Execution times are shown for d = 20, 40, 60, 80, 100. The best performance is obtained when d = 80, since

requiring that each processor calculate at least 80 nodes on each diagonal achieves the best balance between

minimizing message passing and maximizing parallelism.

7.3 Storage Optimizations

In computing a shortest cost path in the graph, we must store the costs of the nodes and the incoming edges

for each node. As mentioned previously, we iterate across all diagonals in the graph. Since edges in the graph

are directed to the right and below, a diagonal at distance k only needs cost information from the diagonal

at distance k 1, as shown in Figure 21. Thus, we can limit our storage to the cost of a single diagonal

and the proceeding diagonal. Furthermore, we can deallocate memory used by proceeding diagonals as their

information becomes no longer needed. This storage technique is significant in computing large data sets.

For example, if we store costs as 4 byte floating points, and have a 500 x 500 subgraph, 1, 000, 000 bytes

would be needed to store the cost of all nodes in the graph. By storing only what we need, a single diagonal,

we reduce storage to 500 x 4 or 2000 bytes.

For storing incoming edges to graph nodes, we cannot use the diagonal approach, since information about

the whole graph is needed to recover the shortest path. Since the incoming edge can only have two possible

values, "up" or "right", a single bit can be used to store each incoming edge.


4 ...350 points

2 ...... ...200 points

6 50 points

2 4 6 8 10 12 14 16
Number of processors

Figure 19: Speedup using parallel algorithm and size of subgraph for processor allocation.

8 Future Work and Optimizations

As discussed in the previous section, it is better to allocate processors based on the size of a subgraph, rather

than the number of paths in that subgraph. There is one problem, namely that one of Whi and WIo might be

very small, and contain sections where all p(i) that are found in the subgraph must contain the same path.

In this case, the remaining work contained in the subgraph might be somewhat larger than is indicated by

the size of the subgraph. To account for this problem, whenever there is a cut edge in the subgraph, its

edges are joined together (see Figure 22). This condition occurs whenever there are two adjacent d in the

subgraph such that ISd\ = 1, and can be detected and corrected for when the paths are split and distributed

with only a constant time penalty[JL92]. Johnson and Livadas [JL92] show that this consideration, along

with processor allocation based on graph size, leads to a parallel algorithm with an optimal speedup. The

complexity is shown to be O(mn log(m)/p), ifp = O(mn/((m+n) log(mn/(m+n)))), where p is the number

of processors, and the toroidal graph is of dimension m by n.

The parallelism that our algorithm achieved was limited by the amount of communication required

between processors. The algorithm can have very local communication characteristics, since the processors

can be embedded in a line and perform nearest neighbor communications only. However, we had little control

over processor allocation on the machine we used for the implementation. Since we use generic message

passing for inter-processor communication, our algorithm could be implemented in any distributed or parallel


0000000 0 000
0 0 6 0 00L 0 0 0 010

Figure 20: Messages required along a diagonal.

environment. In particular, our algorithm will be more efficient on a message passing multiprocessor, since
we simulate message passing on the shared memory of the BBN. We plan to investigate the improvements
possible with a message passing multiprocessor that gives us finer control over process placement.

9 Conclusions

By exploiting the structure of a directed graph, we have developed a parallel solution to finding a shortest
path. The problem has applications in surface reconstruction, where we represent contours of a surface
as graphs. Finding the shortest path in these graphs corresponds to finding a I.. fit surface" over the
contours. By parallelizing the solution, we have obtained a significant speedup to a computationally intensive
By using a different criteria for processor allocation, we obtained better load balancing. Providing a
lower bound on computation size as well as a better heuristic for the initial splitting of a graph can reduce
message passing, and thus improve the speedup obtained.


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0000000 OO
000000 000
00000 0000
0000 00000
000 000000
OO 0000000
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