Spline: Definition

The word spline I associate with wheels  and curves with Bezier so I was surprised that in 3D modelling it is defined thus

“A spline is a Bezier-type curve that can be shaped and manipulated with a set number of control points, called CVs. Splines are used frequently in NURBS modeling, where a three dimensional mesh can be “lofted” between two or more splines to create a smooth surface.

Splines also have use in polygonal modeling and animation. In the former, polygons can be extruded along a spline with set number of segments— extrusions such as these are a common technique for modeling any sort of tubular detail, including wires and pipes.

In animation, a spline can be used as a motion path.

Also Known As: NURBS curve, path.”

from http://3d.about.com/od/Glossary-S/g/Spline.htm  Accessed 2/12/15

A fascinating history of curves is blogged here http://www.alatown.com/spline/

Diagram to show word derivation over years.

14-Development-of-Computation-Spline-V4-585x304

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