Quadtrees and Octrees

Authored by: Srinivas Aluru

Handbook of Data Structures and Applications

Print publication date:  March  2018
Online publication date:  February  2018

Print ISBN: 9781498701853
eBook ISBN: 9781315119335
Adobe ISBN:


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Quadtrees are hierarchical spatial tree data structures that are based on the principle of recursive decomposition of space. The term quadtree originated from representation of two dimensional data by recursive decomposition of space using separators parallel to the coordinate axis. The resulting split of a region into four regions corresponding to southwest, northwest, southeast and northeast quadrants is represented as four children of the node corresponding to the region, hence the term “quad” tree. In a three dimensional analogue, a region is split into eight regions using planes parallel to the coordinate planes. As each internal node can have eight children corresponding to the 8-way split of the region associated with it, the term octree is used to describe the resulting tree structure. Analogous data structures for representing spatial data in higher than three dimensions are called hyperoctrees. It is also common practice to use the term quadtrees in a generic way irrespective of the dimensionality of the spatial data. This is especially useful when describing algorithms that are applicable regardless of the specific dimensionality of the underlying data.

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