# High performance triangle - axis aligned bounding box clipping

Implementation of a Robust (i.e. with a finite plane thickness) Sutherland–Hodgman algorithm for clipping polygons against an axis-aligned bounding box. I use the following code only for clipping triangles. So the clipped polygon can consist only of at most 9 vertices. The third-party code of Point, BBox and Lerp is not given, since this is rather trivial.

The C++ code works fine (Python version available at) and fast for clipping some triangles. Unfortunately, I typically need to perform 1 billion of these operations. Profiling learns most of the time is spent on these clipping operations (which is not the core of my apllication). So my question: is it possible to make the code more performance efficient (e.g. eliminating most of the branching)?

#pragma once

#define PLANE_THICKNESS_EPSILON 0.00001f

// Classify a given vertex against an axis-aligned plane
//
// @param sign        min/max clipping plane
// @param axis        axis of the clipping plane
// @param c_v         one vertex of the clipping plane
// @param p_v         vertex to classify
//
// @return            classification of the vertex
template <typename T>
inline int8_t Classify(int8_t sign, uint8_t axis, const Point3<T> &c_v, const Point3d &p_v) {
const double d = sign * (p_v[axis] - c_v[axis]);
if      (d >  PLANE_THICKNESS_EPSILON) return  1;
else if (d < -PLANE_THICKNESS_EPSILON) return -1;
else                                   return  0;
}

#define POINT_BUFFER_SIZE 9

// Clip the given polygon against an axis-aligned plane
//
// @param p_vs        polygon before clipping as a sequence of vertices
// @param nb_p_vs     number of vertices before clipping
// @param sign        min/max clipping plane
// @param axis        axis of the clipping plane
// @param c_v         one vertex of the clipping plane
//
// @return p_vs       polygon after clipping as a sequence of vertices
// @return nb_p_vs    number of vertices after clipping
template <typename T>
inline void Clip3D_plane(Point3d *p_vs, uint8_t *nb_p_vs, int8_t sign, uint8_t axis, const Point3<T> &c_v) {

uint8_t nb = (*nb_p_vs);
if (nb == 0) return;
else if (nb == 1) {
*nb_p_vs = 0;
return;
}

Point3d new_p_vs[POINT_BUFFER_SIZE];
uint8_t k = 0;
bool b = true; // polygon is fully located on clipping plane

Point3d p_v1 = p_vs[nb-1];
int8_t d1 = Classify<T>(sign, axis, c_v, p_v1);
for (uint8_t j = 0; j < nb; ++j) {
const Point3d &p_v2 = p_vs[j];
int8_t d2 = Classify<T>(sign, axis, c_v, p_v2);
if (d2 < 0) {
b = false;
if (d1 > 0) {
const double alpha = (p_v2[axis] - c_v[axis]) / (p_v2[axis] - p_v1[axis]);
new_p_vs[k++] = Lerp(alpha, p_v2, p_v1);
}
else if (d1 == 0 && (k == 0 || new_p_vs[k-1] != p_v1))
new_p_vs[k++] = p_v1;
}
else if (d2 > 0) {
b = false;
if (d1 < 0) {
const double alpha = (p_v2[axis] - c_v[axis]) / (p_v2[axis] - p_v1[axis]);
new_p_vs[k++] = Lerp(alpha, p_v2, p_v1);
}
else if (d1 == 0 && (k == 0 || new_p_vs[k-1] != p_v1))
new_p_vs[k++] = p_v1;

new_p_vs[k++] = p_v2;
}
else {
if (d1 != 0)
new_p_vs[k++] = p_v2;
}

p_v1 = p_v2;
d1 = d2;
}

if (b) return;

*nb_p_vs = k;
for (uint8_t j = 0; j < k; ++j)
p_vs[j] = new_p_vs[j];
}

// Clip the given polygon against an axis-aligned bounding box
//
// @param p_vs        polygon before clipping as a sequence of vertices
// @param nb_p_vs     number of vertices before clipping
// @param clipper     axis-aligned bounding box used for clipping
//
// @return p_vs       polygon after clipping as a sequence of vertices
// @return nb_p_vs    number of vertices after clipping
inline void Clip3D_AABB(Point3d *p_vs, uint8_t *nb_p_vs, const BBox &clipper) {
for (uint8_t axis = 0; axis < 3; ++axis) {
Clip3D_plane<float>(p_vs, nb_p_vs,  1.0, axis, clipper.pMin);
Clip3D_plane<float>(p_vs, nb_p_vs, -1.0, axis, clipper.pMax);
}
}


All remaining legacy declarations and definitions (stripped as much as possible) to make it compile:

#include "stdint.h"

template <typename T>
class Point3 {
public:
Point3() { x = y = z = 0; }
Point3(T x, T y, T z) : x(x), y(y), z(z) {}
template <typename U>
explicit Point3(const Point3<U> &p) : x((T)p.x), y((T)p.y), z((T)p.z) {}

Point3<T> operator+(const Point3<T> &p) const {
return Point3<T>(x + p.x, y + p.y, z + p.z);
}
template <typename U>
Point3<T> operator*(U f) const {
return Point3<T>(f * x, f * y, f * z);
}
T operator[](int i) const {
if (i == 0) return x;
if (i == 1) return y;
return z;
}
T &operator[](int i) {
if (i == 0) return x;
if (i == 1) return y;
return z;
}
bool operator==(const Point3<T> &p) const {
return x == p.x && y == p.y && z == p.z;
}
bool operator!=(const Point3<T> &p) const {
return x != p.x || y != p.y || z != p.z;
}

T x, y, z;
};

typedef Point3<float> Point;
typedef Point3<double> Point3d;

template <typename T, typename U>
inline Point3<T> operator*(U f, const Point3<T> &p) {
return p * f;
}

template <typename T>
Point3<T> Lerp(double t, const Point3<T> &p0, const Point3<T> &p1) {
return (1 - t) * p0 + t * p1;
}

class BBox {
public:
BBox(const Point &pMin, const Point &pMax) : pMin(pMin), pMax(pMax) {}
Point pMin, pMax;
};


## 1 Answer

As you say that this is the bottle neck and you mention big numbers I'm going to put my performance goggles on.

# Avoid conversions

You are mixing double and float precision numbers with Point3d (which is double) and Point<T> with T=float. Conversion between these two consumes some time. Pick either double or float and use it throughout, the performance difference between them should be minimal.

Also your sign parameter is int8_t and you multiply it with double values this causes an integer to floating point conversion which can be somewhat costly if done in a hot loop. At the very least sign should be double. But I will show you how you can avoid the multiplication all together further down.

Your axis parameter should be of type size_t. Using uint8_t is not in any way faster because it is smaller, the argument is likely passed in registers anyway where the size doesn't matter. At worst you're causing conversions/type promotions.

# Use template value parameters

This section is speculative, you compiler might be good enough to do the constant propagation and optimization any way, or it might not. You have to profile to find out, in either case I will show you the technique and you can test.

You can pass values to template (non class) arguments and specialize on these values so that the compiler can more easily generate optimized code if the values are known during compile-time (they are here).

For example:

template <typename T>
inline int8_t Classify(int8_t sign, uint8_t axis, const Point3<T> &c_v, const Point3d &p_v) {
const double d = sign * (p_v[axis] - c_v[axis]);
if      (d >  PLANE_THICKNESS_EPSILON) return  1;
else if (d < -PLANE_THICKNESS_EPSILON) return -1;
else                                   return  0;
}


could be something like this:

template<typename T, bool positive_sign, int axis>
inline int Classify(const Point3<T>& c_v, const Point3<T>& p_v) {
// because "positive_sign" is a compile time constant, the compiler can
// remove the branch here.
const double d = positive_sign ? (p_v[axis] - c_v[axis]) :
(c_v[axis] - p_v[axis]);
auto c = ((d > PLANE_THICKNESS_EPSILON)<<1) |
(d < -PLANE_THICKNESS_EPSILON);
static int v = {0, -1, 1};
return v[c];
}


Note that I also showed you how to get rid of the branches in this function. You'll have to benchmark and see if there is any use from making axis a template value. I'm suspecting it wont make a difference.

# Consolidate branches

Note how the branches for d2 < 0 and d2 > 0 have almost the same code?

    if (d2 < 0) {
b = false;
if (d1 > 0) { // NOTE: Differs here
const double alpha = (p_v2[axis] - c_v[axis]) / (p_v2[axis] - p_v1[axis]);
new_p_vs[k++] = Lerp(alpha, p_v2, p_v1);
}
else if (d1 == 0 && (k == 0 || new_p_vs[k-1] != p_v1))
new_p_vs[k++] = p_v1;
}
else if (d2 > 0) {
b = false;
if (d1 < 0) { // NOTE: And here
const double alpha = (p_v2[axis] - c_v[axis]) / (p_v2[axis] - p_v1[axis]);
new_p_vs[k++] = Lerp(alpha, p_v2, p_v1);
}
else if (d1 == 0 && (k == 0 || new_p_vs[k-1] != p_v1))
new_p_vs[k++] = p_v1;

new_p_vs[k++] = p_v2; // Note: And here
}
else {
if (d1 != 0)
new_p_vs[k++] = p_v2;
}


You can re-organize this like so:

if(d2 == 0){
if (d1 != 0)
new_p_vs[k++] = p_v2;
}else{ // d2 < 0 OR d2 > 0
b = false;

// test for d1 == 0 first, because if that is true,
// none of the expressions in the else statement can be true.
if (d1 == 0){
// You might want to consider special casing k == 0 outside of the
// loop so you can avoid the check for k==0 in here which is only
// true once.
if(k == 0 || new_p_vs[k-1] != p_v1)
new_p_vs[k++] = p_v1;
}
else if ((d2 < 0 && d1 > 0) || (d2 > 0 && d1 < 0)) {
auto alpha = (p_v2[axis] - c_v[axis]) / (p_v2[axis] - p_v1[axis]);
new_p_vs[k++] = Lerp(alpha, p_v2, p_v1);
}

if(d2 > 0)
new_p_vs[k++] = p_v2;
}


Again YMMV the compiler may have been able to do the above transform for you, or it may not be any faster at all. It is only my gut feeling telling me that the above might be slightly better. I have not profiled and you should test to see if it gives any improvement at all.

# Better formulation for Lerp

The current code is:

template <typename T>
Point3<T> Lerp(double t, const Point3<T> &p0, const Point3<T> &p1) {
return (1 - t) * p0 + t * p1;
}


If you instead formulate it like this you have one multiplication less:

return p0 + t*(p1-p0);


# Better implementation of Point3::operator[]

Use a anonymous union and struct to better implement operator []. Like so:

   T operator[](int i) const {
return raw[i];
}
T &operator[](int i) {
return raw[i];
}

union{
struct{
T x, y, z;
};
T raw;
};
};


That's all I have time for right now, I have to go to bed. Hope that helps!

• All operations in v2 of the project used floating point operations. For some geometry operations, I wanted doubles so I templated the Point class and needed typedef Point3<float> Point; for most of the original code. Initialization of Point and BBox is mostly done somewhere else and thus starts out as floats. I like the new operator[] as opposed to my original (&x)[i]. – Matthias Jun 15 '16 at 6:46
• Thanks very much! Very educational. I will compare both during profiling today. – Matthias Jun 15 '16 at 6:53
• After profiling: "Consolidate branches" and size_t seem to make it worse. The remaining results in some minor improvements. – Matthias Jun 16 '16 at 19:22
• @Matthias Well, that's why we profile :) what was the total speed-up? – Emily L. Jun 16 '16 at 20:46
• Between 5 and 10% especially due to "Lerp" and "operator[]" – Matthias Jun 17 '16 at 6:21