So I am doing a gradient descent like algorithm on the surface of a mesh and I just noticed something:
The above is the geodesic gradient (the distance to a single vertex)
Look at where the ear connects with the head and notice how the discretized gradient behaves. It's almost pointing in opposite directions. This is not however an error, this occurs because the gradient at that region is fairly "turbulent".
My algorithm is fairly simple, grab a point in a triangle, compute its negative gradient, intersect the gradient with the triangle, move there, switch active triangle to the neighbour, repeat.
In other words you just follow the gradient down towards the source.
However, when I hit those turbulent regions, my algorithm gets stuck, because the gradient becomes essentially 0 and numerical errors prevent it from intersecting any of the edges of the triangle.
The green points are the path taken by my gradient descent algorithm. The cyan ones are the centres of the faces of the triangles and the yellow arrow is the gradient at the last point.
Notice that this result is correct.
However, at the ears:
As you can see the algorithm stops because the gradient is borderline 0.
And worse there are regions in the ears where the turbulence makes the gradient bounce and start travelling in the opposite direction.
Does anyone have tips on how I could handle the gradient in these regions?