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Rational frames of minimal twist along space curves under specified boundary conditions


An adapted orthonormal frame (f1(ξ),f2(ξ),f3(ξ)) on a space curve r(ξ), ξ ∈ [0, 1] comprises the curve tangent f1(ξ) = r′(ξ) / | r′(ξ) | and two unit vectors f2(ξ),f3(ξ) that span the normal plane. The variation of this frame is specified by its angular velocity Ω = Ω1f1 + Ω2f2 + Ω3f3, and the twist of the framed curve is the integral of the component Ω1 with respect to arc length. A minimal twist frame (MTF) has the least possible twist value, subject to prescribed initial and final orientations f2(0),f3(0) and f2(1),f3(1) of the normal–plane vectors. Employing the Euler–Rodrigues frame (ERF) — a rational adapted frame defined on spatial Pythagorean–hodograph curves — as an intermediary, an exact expression for an MTF with Ω1 = constant is derived. However, since this involves rather complicated transcendental terms, a construction of rational MTFs is proposed by the imposition of a rational rotation on the ERF normal–plane vectors. For spatial PH quintics, it is shown that rational MTFs compatible with the boundary conditions can be constructed, with only modest deviations of Ω1 about the mean value, by a rational quartic normal–plane rotation of the ERF. If necessary, subdivision methods can be invoked to ensure that the rational MTF is free of inflections, or to more accurately approximate a constant Ω1. The procedure is summarized by an algorithm outline, and illustrated by a representative selection of computed examples.

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