Discrete & Computational Geometry

, Volume 44, Issue 1, pp 75–90

Vietoris–Rips Complexes of Planar Point Sets

  • Erin W. Chambers
  • Vin de Silva
  • Jeff Erickson
  • Robert Ghrist

DOI: 10.1007/s00454-009-9209-8

Cite this article as:
Chambers, E.W., de Silva, V., Erickson, J. et al. Discrete Comput Geom (2010) 44: 75. doi:10.1007/s00454-009-9209-8


Fix a finite set of points in Euclidean n-space \(\mathbb{E}^{n}\) , thought of as a point-cloud sampling of a certain domain \(D\subset\mathbb{E}^{n}\) . The Vietoris–Rips complex is a combinatorial simplicial complex based on proximity of neighbors that serves as an easily-computed but high-dimensional approximation to the homotopy type of D. There is a natural “shadow” projection map from the Vietoris–Rips complex to \(\mathbb{E}^{n}\) that has as its image a more accurate n-dimensional approximation to the homotopy type of D.

We demonstrate that this projection map is 1-connected for the planar case n=2. That is, for planar domains, the Vietoris–Rips complex accurately captures connectivity and fundamental group data. This implies that the fundamental group of a Vietoris–Rips complex for a planar point set is a free group. We show that, in contrast, introducing even a small amount of uncertainty in proximity detection leads to “quasi”-Vietoris–Rips complexes with nearly arbitrary fundamental groups. This topological noise can be mitigated by examining a pair of quasi-Vietoris–Rips complexes and using ideas from persistent topology. Finally, we show that the projection map does not preserve higher-order topological data for planar sets, nor does it preserve fundamental group data for point sets in dimension larger than three.


Topology Rips complex Quasi-Rips complex 

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Erin W. Chambers
    • 1
  • Vin de Silva
    • 2
  • Jeff Erickson
    • 3
  • Robert Ghrist
    • 4
  1. 1.Department of Mathematics and Computer ScienceSt. Louis UniversitySt. LouisUSA
  2. 2.Department of MathematicsPomona CollegeClaremontUSA
  3. 3.Department of Computer ScienceUniversity of IllinoisUrbana-ChampaignUSA
  4. 4.Departments of Mathematics and Electrical/Systems EngineeringUniversity of PennsylvaniaPhiladelphiaUSA