Flips in Computational Geometry

Presented at Theory Lunch, Carnegie Mellon University, Nov. 15, 2006

In this talk, we will be looking at a basic primitive in computational geometry, the flip. Also known as bistellar flips, edge-flips, rotations, and Pachner moves, this local change operation has been discovered and rediscovered in a variety of fields (thus the many names) and has proven useful both as an algorithmic tool as well as a proof technology. For algorithm designers working outside of computational geometry, one can consider the flip move as a higher dimensional analog of the tree rotations used in binary trees. I will survey some of the most important results about flips with an emphasis on developing a general geometric intuition that has led to many advances.