** Overview**

B-Spline curves are piecewise Bézier curves. To develop B-splines, and to do so in a continuous smooth way, we must discover the conditions on which two Bézier curves can be pieced together. To examine this process, we will first consider a single cubic curve and show how to construct the many Bézier control polygons that represent the curve. These control polygons, and their geometric constraints, are paramount in the definition of the B-spline curve.

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** A Matrix Equation for a Cubic Curve**

A cubic polynomial curve can be written as a Bézier curve. If we let be the control points of the curve, then it can be written as

The representation of the curve can be written in a matrix form by

where

** Reparameterization using the Matrix Form**

The control polygon defines the unique cubic curve , and is most frequently used to represent the curve between and , where and . However, given an interval , there exists a unique control polygon defining a Bézier curve , such that and . These control polygons, called Bézier polygons can be generated by reparameterization and by manipulating the matrix representation above.

Suppose that we wish to find the Bézier polygon for the portion of
the curve
where
.
If we define this new curve as
, then we can define
. It is straightforward to check that both
and
are cubic curves, * and represent the same
curve*.
We can calculate the control points for
by using our matrix
form, that is

where the matrix has columns whose entries are the coefficients of , , and respectively in the polynomials , , , and , respectively. This can be rewritten as

where is equal to

An example of this which will be useful to us in learning how to piece together two Bézier curves is to find the control polygon for the curve when its parameter ranges from to . In this case, we have

where

So the control polygon for that portion of curve where ranges from to is given by

Working with some algebra, and defining new temporary points and , we see that

Using these equations, these new control points can be analyzed geometrically and as a result each can be calculated by a simple geometric process using only the initial control polygon . If we consider the following figure, where we have displayed the control point and , it is easy to locate the point .

By equation (2), lies on an extension of the line where the distance between and , and between and are equal.

By equation (4), lies on an extension of the line , where the lengths defined by and are equal - and as a result of this fact and equation (6), lies on an extension of the line , where the lengths defined by and are equal. This enables us to construct .

Similarly, using equations (3), (4), (5), and (7), we can construct as in the the following illustration

The result of this exercise is that we can
construct the control points of the curve
directly from the
original control points for
. These two functions represent
the *same curve*.

An interesting exercise for the reader is to calculate the portion of
the curve
as
ranges from 0 to . In this case, the
new curve
can be defined as
, and by
substituting this into the matrix form, the resulting Bézier polygon should
be
. ** Try it out**.

The example above illustrated the fact that there are many Bézier polygons that can represent a cubic curve. However the geometric construction process generated by this example did not quite illustrate the fine details of the algorithm. To see the necessary characteristics of the algorithm, we will use the following example: Find the control polygon for the portion of the curve when ranges between and , for an arbitrary value of . In this case, we define the curve , where and use our matrix representation to calculate

where

So the control polygon for that portion of curve where ranges from to is given by

These new control points can again be analyzed geometrically and as a result each can be calculated by a simple geometric process using only the initial control polygon . To accomplish this, we first write

where the last calculation can be done with some algebra.

The important factor here is the term. Each of these points is on an extension of a line of the original control polygon, or the extension of a constructed line. The factor determines how much to extend. The following illustration shows the construction for our previous Bézier curve with , giving the portion of the where ranges from to .

** Summary**

We have shown here that for a cubic curve, there are many control polygons that can define the curve. Using our matrix representation, we have shown how to determine the control polygon that covers an arbitary interval of the original curve. Our examples will be very useful when we discuss how to piece two or more Bézier curves together.

2000-11-28