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TerraNNI - Natural Neighbor Interpolation on 2D and 3D point clouds

TerraNNI interpolates large 2D and 3D pointclouds using a variant of natural neighbor interpolation. The original natural neighbor interpolation scheme[1] is approximated by discretizing the Voronoi diagram and by limiting the region of influence of the sites. More details in [2] for the 2D version and [3] for the 3D version.


TerraNNI is developed by:

Pankaj K. Agarwal, Duke University -

Alex Beutel, Carnegie Mellon University -

Thomas Mølhave, Duke University -


TerraNNI uses the following libraries


TerraNNI uses CMake for its build system.

$ git clone git://
$ git submodule init
$ git submodule update
$ mkdir build
$ cd build
$ ccmake ../TerraNNI #( alternatively, use cmake-gui ../TerraNNI )
$ make


A couple of the CMake variables are vital for the compilation to succeede. CUDA_SDK_ROOT_DIR must be set to the C directory of the NVIDIA GPU Computing SDK.

If you are on a system running GCC 4.5 or newer, you may have to force the cuda compiler (nvcc) to use an older version of gcc. This can be done by setting the CUDA_HOST_COMPILER cmake variable to g++-4.4.


TerraNNI needs a directory for storing temporary files, this is set with the --tmp-path parameter. The following command works on the point cloud build from the las files available at --tilepath. It compites a 2000 by 2000 grid with a cell size of 1. It starts at year 2002 and stops at year 2004, outputting a grid for every half year in the mean time. The spatial origin of the output grids is (10,10).

Note: TerraNNI interprets the "intensity" value for LAS points as the time stamp for that point. Thus, in the example below, the intensity values are presumably somewhere in the [2000,2006] range.

$ ./terranni --tilepath=<path to las files> --output=out_directory --cell-size=1.0 --site-radius=5.0 --wp-path=/var/tmp/wp --time-start=2002 --time-length=3 --time-radius=2 --tmp-path=/var/tmp  --time-step=0.5 --origin-x=10 --origin-y=10 --grid-cols=2000 --grid-rows=200

The --site-radius and --time-radious parameters set the region of influence in space and time respectively. When interpolation at a location, points outside its region of influence is not considered, consult[2,3] for more details.

Creating traditional 2D grids

The program terranni-2d is produced during compilation. It is equivalent to the original terranni program except that all options concerning time has been disabled, it is therefore somewhat simpler to use for creating standard DEMs.


[1] Sibson, R. (1981). "A brief description of natural neighbor interpolation (Chapter 2)". In V. Barnett. Interpreting Multivariate Data. Chichester: John Wiley. pp. 21–36
[2] Alex Beutel, Thomas Mølhave, Pankaj K. Agarwal (2010) Natural neighbor interpolation based grid DEM construction using a GPU In GIS '10: Proceedings of the 18th ACM SIGSPATIAL International Symposium on Advances in Geographic Information Systems.
[3] Alex Beutel, Thomas Mølhave, Pankaj K. Agarwal, Arnold P. Boedihardjo, James A. Shine (2011). "TerraNNI: Natural Neighbor Interpolation on a 3D Grid Using a GPU". In GIS '11 Proceedings of the 19th ACM SIGSPATIAL International Symposium on Advances in Geographic Information Systems, 2011.


TerraNNI interpolates grid DEMs from large 2D and 3D point clouds using a variant of natural neighbor interpolation.







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