1996, 1999, 2006
J.A. Sethian

The Narrow Band Level Set Method
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The central idea of level set methods is to track a propagating interface by embedding it as the zero level set of a higher-dimensional function. This implicit representation allows one to track changes in topology, and allows one to calculate geometric quantities such as the normal direction and the curvature by capitalizing on the smoothness of the level set function in a neighborhood of th zero level set of interest. However, this embedding comes at a substantial price; one is now tracking all the level sets, not just the one of interest.

The Narrow Band Level Set Method, introduced in Ref. 1 below, solves this problem by focusing computational energy in a thin band around the front itself. Using this approach, the operation count for the level set method drops from O(N*N) in two dimensions to O(k N), where N is the number of points in each space dimension and k is the width of the narrow band. Ref. 2 is an earlier use of this technique.

This savings is substantial; it allows three-dimensional interface evolution problems to be handled with ease.

New Book and Resource on Level Set and Fast Marching Methods


  1. A Fast Level Set Method for Propagating Interfaces : Adalsteinsson, D., and Sethian, J.A., Journal Computational Physics, 118, 2, pp. 269-277, 1995.

    A method is introduced to decrease the computational labor of the standard level set method for propagating interfaces. The fast approach uses only points close to the curve at every time step. We describe this new algorithm and compare its efficiency and accuracy with the standard level set approach.

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  2. Computing Minimal Surfaces via Level Set Curvature Flow : Chopp, D.L. Journal of Computational Physics, 106, pp. 77-91, 1993.

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