Which Data Structure Is Used to Identify the Vertices for Each Polygon Edge?


Larry Thompson

Which Data Structure Is Used to Identify the Vertices for Each Polygon Edge?

When working with polygons, it is essential to have an efficient data structure to identify the vertices for each edge. This information allows us to perform various operations on the polygon, such as rendering, collision detection, and more.

In this article, we will explore different data structures commonly used for this purpose.

List-based Data Structures

One of the simplest data structures used to identify vertices for each polygon edge is a list-based approach. In this method, we maintain a separate list for each edge of the polygon.

Each element in the list represents a vertex on that particular edge. By traversing these lists, we can easily access the required vertices for any given edge.

However, while list-based data structures are straightforward to implement and understand, they can be inefficient when dealing with large polygons or complex operations involving multiple edges.

Linked Lists

Linked lists provide an alternative data structure that can be used to identify vertices for each polygon edge. In this approach, instead of using separate lists for each edge, we create a linked list where each node represents a vertex and stores a reference to the next vertex.

By traversing the linked list starting from any node, we can easily find all the vertices associated with a particular edge. This method offers flexibility in terms of adding or removing vertices dynamically without requiring changes in other parts of the data structure.


  • Dynamic size: Linked lists can easily accommodate changes in polygon shape by adding or removing nodes.
  • Efficient insertion and deletion: Adding or removing vertices from an existing edge is relatively fast.


  • Traversal: Traversing the linked list to find specific vertices can be slower than other data structures.
  • Extra memory overhead: Linked lists require additional memory to store references between nodes.

Half-Edge Data Structure

The half-edge data structure is a more advanced approach for identifying vertices for polygon edges. It provides a comprehensive representation of the polygon, including both edges and their associated vertices.

In this data structure, each edge is represented by two half-edges, one for each side of the edge. Each half-edge stores information about its starting vertex, ending vertex, and references to the next and previous half-edges in the same face.

By traversing the half-edge structure, we can easily access all the vertices associated with each edge. This method is particularly useful for operations that require adjacency information between edges or faces.


  • Efficient traversal: Accessing adjacent edges or vertices is fast due to the well-defined structure.
  • Compact representation: The half-edge data structure minimizes memory overhead compared to other methods.


  • Complex implementation: Implementing and maintaining a half-edge data structure can be more challenging than simpler alternatives.
  • Inflexible updates: Modifying existing edges or vertices may require updating multiple references in the data structure.

In conclusion, there are various data structures available for identifying the vertices for each polygon edge. The choice depends on factors such as complexity requirements, performance considerations, and ease of implementation.

The list-based approach offers simplicity but may lack efficiency, while linked lists and half-edge data structures provide more flexibility and advanced features. Understanding the trade-offs between these options is crucial for selecting the most suitable data structure for your specific needs.

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