Computer Science Department

Computer Science Colloquium

A Search Engine for 3D Models

Thomas Funkhouser
Princeton University

Friday November 22, 2002
11:30 a.m.
Room 1302 WWH
251 Mercer Street
New York, NY 10012-1185

Host:Demetri Terzopoulos,, 212-998-3477
Colloquium Information:


As the number of 3D models available on the Web grows, there is an increasing need for a search engine to help people find them (e.g., a Google for 3D models). Unfortunately, traditional text-based search techniques are not always effective for 3D data. In this talk, we investigate new shape-based search methods. A key challenge is to find a computational representation of shape (a "shape descriptor") that is concise, robust, quick to compute, efficient to match, and discriminating between similar and dissimilar shapes.

In this talk, I will describe shape descriptors designed for computer graphics models commonly found on the Web (i.e., they may contain arbitrary degeneracies and alignments). We have experimented with them in a Web-based search engine that allows users to query for 3D models based on similarities to 3D sketches, 3D models, 2D sketches, and/or text keywords. We find our best shape matching methods provide better precision-recall performance than related approaches and are fast enough to return query results from a repository of 20,000 polygonal models in under a second. You can try them out at:

Joint work with Patrick Min, Michael Kazhdan, Robert Osada, Joyce Chen, Alex Halderman, David Dobkin, and David Jacobs.