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Hi all,

Consider a cloud of points in 3D space (x,y,z). The data is well-behaved, once plotted the surface looks like some sort of spheroid. I assumed a form for the fitting function f(x,y,z) = c1 x^2 + c2 y^2 + c3 z^2 + c4 x^2y^2 + ..etc

The coefficients were obtained using a least squares approximation. My only problem is that the surface has some concave portions. Does anyone know how to express a constraint that would generate the coefficients (c1,c2, ...) but ensure convexity at all points?

Thanks a lot!


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It would help if you said how the points are being obtained and what the final result is needed for. (You seem to be assuming that it is a spheroid to start with so it is not surprising that you are getting a spheroid out!) – Tim Porter Aug 24 '11 at 9:03
Did you intend those terms with total degree 4? (I had not noticed them when I made the earlier comment.) – Tim Porter Aug 24 '11 at 9:06
Perhaps it would be better to fit to an equation representing a spheroid or ovoid or superellipsoid, rather than the generic $f(x,y,z)$ you are using. – Joseph O'Rourke Aug 24 '11 at 16:00

For your apparent purpose, in dimension $n$ it is convenient to begin with a homogeneous polynomial of total degree $2n$ with all individual exponents even. Then, for translates and rotations, all sorts of lower degree and odd exponent terms may show up.

In $\mathbb R^2,$ a rounded version of an ordinary square is $$ A(x^4 + y^4) + B x^2 y^2 = 1.$$ The ordinary unit circle is $A=1, B = 2.$ Disjoint hyperbolas are $A=1, B=-2.$ A somewhat squared shape, indeed the $L^4$ "unit circle," is $A=1, B=0.$ An alternative to Piet Hein's "superellipse" is $A=1, B=1.$ Finally, a real analytic curve that passes through all 8 lattice points with $ |x| \leq 1,\; |y| \leq 1$ other than the origin itself is $A=1, B = -1,$ or $$ x^4 - x^2 y^2 + y^4 = 1.$$

At some point I wanted a smooth version of an ordinary cube in $\mathbb R^3,$ meaning that it passed through all 26 integer lattice points with $ |x| \leq 1,\; |y| \leq 1,\; |z| \leq 1$ other than the origin itself. I wrote $$ A( x^6 + y^6 + z^6) + B (y^4 z^2 + z^4 x^2 + x^4 y^2 + y^2 z^4 + z^2 x^4 + x^2 y^4) + C x^2 y^2 z^2 = 1.$$ To find $A,B,C$ it is only necessary to check the $(x,y,z)$ triples $(0,0,1),(0,1,1),(1,1,1),$ and evidently $A=1, B=-\frac{1}{2}, C=1$ works. so $$ ( x^6 + y^6 + z^6) - \frac{1}{2}(y^4 z^2 + z^4 x^2 + x^4 y^2 + y^2 z^4 + z^2 x^4 + x^2 y^4) + x^2 y^2 z^2 = 1$$ is a rounded cube. I recall graphing this in spherical coordinates with $\rho$ a function of $\theta, \phi.$ The trouble was that it is very flat near the axes, so without spherical coordinates many different patches were necessary. It is obvious that this is a star-shaped body around the origin, it needs just a little more work to confirm that it is compact.

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Evidently the OP wants convexity for the surface. That can be done as well. – Will Jagy Aug 24 '11 at 19:30

You should use an ellipsoid.

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