Report Number: CS-TR-87-1153
Institution: Stanford University, Department of Computer Science
Title: Optimum Grip of a Polygon
Author: Markenscoff, Xanthippi
Author: Papadimitriou, Christos
Date: April 1987
Abstract: It has been shown by Baker, Fortune and Grosse that any two-dimensional polygonal object can be prehended stably with three fingers, so that its weight (along the third dimension) is balanced. Besides, in this paper we show that form closure of a polygon object can be achieved by four fingers (previous proofs were not complete). We formulate and solve the problem of finding the optimum stable grip or form closure of any given polygon. For stable grip it is most natural to minimize the forces needed to balance through friction the object's weight along the third dimension. For form closure, we minimize the worst-case forces needed to balance any unit force acting on the center of gravity of the object. The mathematical techniques used in the two instances are an interesting mix of Optimization and Euclidean geometry. Our results lead to algorithms for the efficient computation of the optimum grip in each case.