Suppose I have a list to create a list density plot, the list format is:

list = {{0.5, 0.5, 0.0}, {-0.5, 0.5, 1.0}, {1.0, -0.45, 0.0}, {0.0, 0.0, 0.0}}

The size of the list is about 10^5 elements

The plot will show a point or nothing at all. The real data produces this picture:

enter image description here

My goal is to make solid lines so that the shapes look smooth, however, I also need a list containing all the points that make the smoothed out picture. Since I know the distance of the mesh, I was thinking about a procedure that would go through the whole grid searching for neighboring points and if there exists a point with {x, y, 1} would fill in the blanks. I'm stuck in the criterion to use for this though. Any thoughts?

  • $\begingroup$ Any chance you can share the actual data? $\endgroup$
    – MarcoB
    Commented Jul 31, 2017 at 19:29
  • $\begingroup$ I can, but I dont what the best method would be. I didnt want to post a huge array here. $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 31, 2017 at 19:33
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ I maybe mistaken, but I think I've seen this exact question with that same graph before somewhere on here. (I'm looking for it right now) $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 31, 2017 at 19:54
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ For reference, the previous question is mathematica.stackexchange.com/questions/151724/… $\endgroup$
    – Michael E2
    Commented Aug 1, 2017 at 2:57
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ When a question is based on another post, usually the user (edits the question and) puts a link to the previous post in the question. -- In this case, some user(s) seem to think they're the same question. Normally the procedure is to mark the newer question a duplicate of the older question, but here they've done the reverse. Perhaps the best thing to do is to click the "flag" button and indicate you think the two Q&A should be merged. (It needs moderator intervention to perform the action, but since you're the author of each, they will probably do it.) $\endgroup$
    – Michael E2
    Commented Aug 1, 2017 at 20:56

1 Answer 1


I imported your posted data:

raw = Import["array1.CSV"];

Then selected one of the features, and reduced it to two-dimensional, since the third dimension is uniformly equal to $1$ for the points constituting the feature:

single = Cases[raw, {a_, b_, 1.} :> {a, b} /; (-0.2 < a < 0.2 && 0.2 < b)];

 PlotRange -> {0.2, 0.5}, AspectRatio -> Automatic


I isolate the oval feature manually:

oval = Cases[single, {a_, b_} /; (-0.07 < a < 0.07 && 0.35 < b < 0.472)];

  PlotRange -> {0.39, 0.48}, AspectRatio -> Automatic

oval points

Then I fit an axis-aligned ellipse to it, by generating an appropriate squared distance function to be minimized, then making the assumption that the abscissa of the center is $0$, which seems reasonable given the symmetry of the system, and imposing reasonable constraints on the other parameters obtained from inspection of the graph:

obj[a_, b_, xc_, yc_] = Total[
     SquaredEuclideanDistance[{#1, #2}, (#1 - xc)^2/a^2 + (#2 - yc)^2/b^2 - 1] & @@@ oval,
     _ ∈ Reals

minPars = FindMinimum[{obj[a, b, 0, yc], 0.42 < yc < 0.46}, {{a, 0.5}, {b, 0.5}, {yc, 0.44}}]

(* {14.2803, {a -> 0.0518811, b -> 0.0312114, yc -> 0.439966}} *)

It's a pretty good fit, despite the few stray points we had to tolerate:

cplot = ContourPlot[
   Evaluate[((x - 0)^2/a^2 + (y - yc)^2/b^2 == 1) /. First@Rest@minPars],
   {x, -0.08, 0.08}, {y, 0.4, 0.48},
   Epilog -> Point[oval], AspectRatio -> Automatic

fit oval and points

Now, we can extract the line shape from the contour plot results:

ovalLine = First@Cases[Normal@cplot, _Line, Infinity];

I then carefully select the points at the periphery of your feature, through somewhat laborious manual filtering:

rdf = RegionDistance[ovalLine];

externalPoints = Join[
   DeleteCases[single, pt_ /; rdf[pt] < 0.00715],
     Select[single, #[[2]] > 0.4713 &],
     MinimalBy[Select[single, #[[2]] > 0.4713 &], Abs@#[[1]] &, 2]



I then use the fantastic alphaShapes2DC function proposed by RunnyKine in this answer, to generate a "concave hull" of those points:

alphaShapes2DC[externalPoints, .10]

alpha shape

In fact, I will turn the 2D region returned by that function into a boundary mesh region, with some formatting for appearances only:

reg = BoundaryDiscretizeRegion[
    alphaShapes2DC[externalPoints, .10],
    MeshCellStyle -> {{1, All} -> Directive[Thick, Red]},
    PlotTheme -> "Lines"

formatted alpha shape

Let's now put it all together:

Show[reg, Graphics[{Thick, Red, ovalLine}]]

both lines

And here's a comparison to the original points:

Show[reg, Graphics[{Thick, Red, ovalLine, Black, Point[single]}]]

with points

And finally let's generate polygons and rotate them around the axis to generate the final shape:

allShapes = NestList[
   GeometricTransformation[#, RotationTransform[2 Pi/3, {0, 0}]] &,
   MeshPrimitives[reg, 2],

allOvals = NestList[
   GeometricTransformation[#, RotationTransform[2 Pi/3, {0, 0}]] &,
   Polygon @@ ovalLine,

Graphics[{FaceForm[None], EdgeForm[{Thick, Red}], allOvals, allShapes}]


  • $\begingroup$ In the obj function, xc is not used cause it's set to 0 in the formula itself, correct? $\endgroup$ Commented Aug 1, 2017 at 15:34
  • $\begingroup$ @GiovanniBaez Yes that's correct. That's a bit muddled in fact. It must have been an intermediate version that I copied. I meant to have xc explicitly it in the formula in the definition of obj. I will clean that up. $\endgroup$
    – MarcoB
    Commented Aug 1, 2017 at 15:59
  • $\begingroup$ Could I use the final form of AllShapes and AllOvals to create a RegionDistanceFunction ? I now have an array and wish to delete points within a certain distance of the lines. $\endgroup$ Commented Aug 1, 2017 at 16:44
  • $\begingroup$ @GiovanniBaez Something could be certainly cobbled together, but not right out of the box, because the idea seems ambiguous to me. For instance, would you like such a function to return the minimum distance of a point from any one of the three shapes in the list, or the average distance from all three, or the sum of the distances...? You would need to define that more precisely. $\endgroup$
    – MarcoB
    Commented Aug 1, 2017 at 18:21
  • $\begingroup$ For the region without the oval I used RegionBoundary to define the boundary line and combined with the RegionDistance for each part managed to take out points in an array within a certain distance of the lines. This has been very helpful. $\endgroup$ Commented Aug 1, 2017 at 18:28

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