The terrain surface simplification problem has been studied extensively, as it has important applications in geographic information systems and computer graphics. The goal is to obtain a new surface that is combinatorially as simple as possible, while maintaining a prescribed degree of similarity with the original input surface. Generally, the approximation error is measured with respect to distance (e.g., Hausdorff) from the original or with respect to visual similarity. In this paper, we propose a new method of simplifying terrain surfaces, designed specifically to maximize a new measure of quality based on preserving inter-point visibility relationships. Our work is motivated by various problems of terrain analysis that rely on inter-point visibility relationships, such as optimal antenna placement.We have implemented our new method and give experimental evidence of its effectiveness in simplifying terrains according to our quality measure. We experimentally compare its performance with that of other leading simplification methods.
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