Symmetry is a common characteristic in natural and man-made objects. Its ubiquitous nature can be exploited to facilitate the analysis and processing of computational representations of real objects. In particular, in computer graphics, the detection of symmetries in 3D geometry has enabled a number of applications in modeling and reconstruction. However, the problem of symmetry detection in incomplete geometry remains a challenging task. In this paper, we propose a vote-based approach to detect symmetry in 3D shapes, with special interest in models with large missing parts. Our algorithm generates a set of candidate symmetries by matching local maxima of a surface function based on the heat diffusion in local domains, which guarantee robustness to missing data. In order to deal with local perturbations, we propose a multi-scale surface function that is useful to select a set of distinctive points over which the approximate symmetries are defined. In addition, we introduce a vote-based scheme that is aware of the partiality, and therefore reduces the number of false positive votes for the candidate symmetries. We show the effectiveness of our method in a varied set of 3D shapes and different levels of partiality. Furthermore, we show the applicability of our algorithm in the repair and completion of challenging reassembled objects in the context of cultural heritage.
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