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Bezier Polynomials


#include <boost/math/interpolators/bezier_polynomials.hpp>

namespace boost::math::interpolators {

    class bezier_polynomial
        using Point = typename RandomAccessContainer::value_type;
        using Real = typename Point::value_type;
        using Z = typename RandomAccessContainer::size_type;

        bezier_polynomial(RandomAccessContainer&& control_points);

        inline Point operator()(Real t) const;

        inline Point prime(Real t) const;

        void edit_control_point(Point cont & p, Z index);

        RandomAccessContainer const & control_points() const;

        friend std::ostream& operator<<(std::ostream& out, bezier_polynomial<RandomAccessContainer> const & bp);



Bézier polynomials are curves smooth curves which approximate a set of control points. They are commonly used in computer-aided geometric design. A basic usage is demonstrated below:

std::vector<std::array<double, 3>> control_points(4);
control_points[0] = {0,0,0};
control_points[1] = {1,0,0};
control_points[2] = {0,1,0};
control_points[3] = {0,0,1};
auto bp = bezier_polynomial(std::move(control_points));
// Interpolate at t = 0.1:
std::array<double, 3> point = bp(0.1);

The support of the interpolant is [0,1], and an error message will be written if attempting to evaluate the polynomial outside of these bounds. At least two points must be passed; creating a polynomial of degree 1.

Control points may be modified via edit_control_point, for example:

std::array<double, 3> endpoint{0,1,1};
bp.edit_control_point(endpoint, 3);

This replaces the last control point with endpoint.

Tangents are computed with the .prime member function, and the control points may be referenced with the .control_points member function.

The overloaded operator << is disappointing: The control points are simply printed. Rendering the Bezier and its convex hull seems to be the best "print" statement for it, but this is essentially impossible in modern terminals.


Do not confuse the Bezier polynomial with a Bezier spline. A Bezier spline has a fixed polynomial order and subdivides the curve into low-order polynomial segments. This is not a spline! Passing n control points to the bezier_polynomial class creates a polynomial of degree n-1, whereas a Bezier spline has a fixed order independent of the number of control points.

Requires C++17 and support for threadlocal storage.


The following performance numbers were generated for evaluating the Bezier-polynomial. The evaluation of the interpolant is 𝑶(N^2), as expected from de Casteljau's algorithm.

Run on (16 X 2300 MHz CPU s)
CPU Caches:
L1 Data 32 KiB (x8)
L1 Instruction 32 KiB (x8)
L2 Unified 256 KiB (x8)
L3 Unified 16384 KiB (x1)
Benchmark                              Time           CPU
BezierPolynomial<double>/2        9.07 ns         9.06 ns
BezierPolynomial<double>/3        13.2 ns         13.1 ns
BezierPolynomial<double>/4        17.5 ns         17.5 ns
BezierPolynomial<double>/5        21.7 ns         21.7 ns
BezierPolynomial<double>/6        27.4 ns         27.4 ns
BezierPolynomial<double>/7        32.4 ns         32.3 ns
BezierPolynomial<double>/8        40.4 ns         40.4 ns
BezierPolynomial<double>/9        51.9 ns         51.8 ns
BezierPolynomial<double>/10       65.9 ns         65.9 ns
BezierPolynomial<double>/11       79.1 ns         79.1 ns
BezierPolynomial<double>/12       83.0 ns         82.9 ns
BezierPolynomial<double>/13        108 ns          108 ns
BezierPolynomial<double>/14        119 ns          119 ns
BezierPolynomial<double>/15        140 ns          140 ns
BezierPolynomial<double>/16        137 ns          137 ns
BezierPolynomial<double>/17        151 ns          151 ns
BezierPolynomial<double>/18        171 ns          171 ns
BezierPolynomial<double>/19        194 ns          193 ns
BezierPolynomial<double>/20        213 ns          213 ns
BezierPolynomial<double>/21        220 ns          220 ns
BezierPolynomial<double>/22        260 ns          260 ns
BezierPolynomial<double>/23        266 ns          266 ns
BezierPolynomial<double>/24        293 ns          292 ns
BezierPolynomial<double>/25        319 ns          319 ns
BezierPolynomial<double>/26        336 ns          335 ns
BezierPolynomial<double>/27        370 ns          370 ns
BezierPolynomial<double>/28        429 ns          429 ns
BezierPolynomial<double>/29        443 ns          443 ns
BezierPolynomial<double>/30        421 ns          421 ns
BezierPolynomial<double>_BigO       0.52 N^2        0.51 N^2

The Casteljau recurrence is indeed quadratic in the number of control points, and is chosen for numerical stability. See Bezier and B-spline Techniques, section 2.3 for a method to Hornerize the Berstein polynomials and perhaps produce speedups.

Point types

The Point type must satisfy certain conceptual requirements which are discussed in the documentation of the Catmull-Rom curve. However, we reiterate them here:

template<class Real>
class mypoint3d
    // Must define a value_type:
    typedef Real value_type;

    // Regular constructor--need not be of this form.
    mypoint3d(Real x, Real y, Real z) {m_vec[0] = x; m_vec[1] = y; m_vec[2] = z; }

    // Must define a default constructor:
    mypoint3d() {}

    // Must define array access:
    Real operator[](size_t i) const
        return m_vec[i];

    // Must define array element assignment:
    Real& operator[](size_t i)
        return m_vec[i];

    std::array<Real, 3> m_vec;

These conditions are satisfied by both std::array and std::vector.