In this paper we develop a new interrogation method based on the medial axis transform to extract some important global shape characteristics from geometric representations. These shape characteristics include constrictions, maximum thickness points, and associated length scales; isolation of holes and their proximity information; and a set of topologically simple subdomains decomposing a complex domain. The algorithm we develop to compute the medial axis transform of planar multiply connected shapes with curved boundaries can automatically identify these characteristics. Higher level algorithms for generation of finite element meshes of planar multiply connected domains, adaptive triangulation and approximation of trimmed curved surface patches and other engineering applications using the medial axis transform are also discussed.

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