I am scratching my head in order to find the formula of the following problem.

As shown in the following image, I have the coördinates of 2 points to draw a straight line (green dots + line). Next, I have a 2D Polygon of which I have multiple coördinates (red dots).

I would like to find the formula to determine whether or not the green line intersects with the polygon. Preferably at the yellow dot.


  • $\begingroup$ If you don't have the coordinates of the vertex just below the yellow dot you will not have a formula for the position of the yellow dot, though you can still show that the line intersects the polygon. $\endgroup$ – David K Apr 3 at 13:45
  • $\begingroup$ Assume that I have, what would the formula be? Also, how to show that the line intersects the polygon with the information provided in my original question? $\endgroup$ – RazorAlliance192 Apr 3 at 15:27
  • $\begingroup$ Have you tried an internet search for “line-polygon intersection?” $\endgroup$ – amd Apr 3 at 20:52
  • $\begingroup$ Do you have the equations for the lines? All the vertices defined? $\endgroup$ – Moti Apr 4 at 2:11

I am not sure if there is a "formula", but there are algorithms.

Here is one (I do not guarantee it is the most efficient). Let the two green points be $A = (x_A, \, y_A)$ and $B = (x_B, \, y_B)$. Let the polygon be presented as an ordered sequence of its vertices $$\big(\,P_1, \,\, P_2, \,\, P_3, \,\, ...,\,\, P_n, \,\, P_1\, \big)$$ where $P_i = (x_i, \, y_i)$ for $i=1,...,n$.

Step 1: With the help of the points $A$ and $B$ construct a vector perpendicular to the green line $AB$: $$\vec{n} = (a ,\, b) = \big(\,y_A - y_B,\,\, x_B - x_A\,\big)$$ where $\, a = y_A - y_B\, $ and $\, b = x_B - x_A\, $. Then, for any point $P = (x, \, y)$ from the plane, define the dot product \begin{align} \vec{n} \, \cdot\, \vec{AP} &= {(y_A - y_B)(x - x_A) \, + \, (x_B - x_A)(y - y_A)}\\ \end{align} We use this dot product because the line $AB$ splits the plane into two half-planes and if $P$ is in the half in which the vector $\vec{n}$ points, $\vec{n} \, \cdot\, \vec{AP} > 0$. If $P$ is in the other half-plane, $\vec{n} \, \cdot\, \vec{AP} < 0$. Finally, $P$ lies on the line $AB$ if and only if $\vec{n} \, \cdot\, \vec{AP} = 0$

Step 2: For a given index $i \in \{1, ..., n\}$: Calculate $\vec{n} \cdot \vec{AP}_i$ and $\vec{n} \cdot \vec{AP}_{i+1}$.

Step 3: If the product $\big(\,\vec{n} \cdot \vec{AP}_i\,\big) \big(\,\vec{n} \cdot \vec{AP}_{i+1} \, \big) \, < \, 0$, then the two vertices $P_i$ and $P_{i+1}$ are on opposite sides of the line $AB$ and therefore the side $P_iP_{i+1}$ of the polygon intersects the line $AB$. Procede to Step 4.

Step 4: In the case of $AB$ intersect $P_{i}P_{i+1}$, in order to find the intersection point $Q \, = AB \, \cap \,P_iP_{i+1} \,$ of the lines $AB$ and $P_iP_{i+1}$, you have to solve the system of linear equations \begin{align} & (y_A - y_B\,)\, x \, + \, (x_B - x_A)\, y = x_B \, y_A - y_B\,x_A \,\,\, (\text{ equation of line $AB$ })\\ & (y_i - y_{i+1})\, x + (x_{i+1} - x_i)\, y = x_{i+1}\,y_{i} - y_{i+1}\,x_i \,\,\, (\text{ equation of line $P_{i}P_{i+1}$ }) \end{align} The solution to this system gives you the intersection point $Q = (x_Q, \, y_Q)$, where by Cramer's rule: \begin{align*} &x_Q = \frac{\begin{vmatrix} (x_B \, y_A - y_B\,x_A) & (x_B - x_A) \\ (x_{i+1}\,y_{i} - y_{i+1}\,x_i) & (x_{i+1} - x_i) \end{vmatrix}}{\begin{vmatrix} (y_A - y_B\,) & (x_B - x_A) \\ (y_i - y_{i+1}) & (x_{i+1} - x_i)\end{vmatrix}} \\ &\\ &y_Q = \frac{\begin{vmatrix} (y_A - y_B\,) & (x_B \, y_A - y_B\,x_A) \\ (y_i - y_{i+1}) & (x_{i+1}\,y_{i} - y_{i+1}\,x_i) \end{vmatrix}}{\begin{vmatrix} (y_A - y_B\,) & (x_B - x_A) \\ (y_i - y_{i+1}) & (x_{i+1} - x_i)\end{vmatrix}} \end{align*}

Step 5: Calculate the square distance between point $A$ and $Q$: $\,|AQ|^2 = (x_Q - x_A)^2 + (y_Q - y_A)^2$.

Step 6: If the newly calculated $|AQ|^2$ is less than the one between $A$ and the point $\tilde{Q}$ already recorded from the previous steps, then record $Q$ as the new point in place of $\tilde{Q}$, together with $|AQ|^2$. Then Increase the index $i$ by $1$, i.e. $i \mapsto i+1$ and go back to Step 2.

Step 7: Else if the product $\big(\,\vec{n} \cdot \vec{AP}_i\,\big) \big(\,\vec{n} \cdot \vec{AP}_{i+1} \, \big) \, > \, 0$, simply increase the index $i$ by $1$, i.e. $i \mapsto i+1$ and go back to Step 2.

Step 8: Else if $\vec{n} \cdot \vec{AP}_i = 0$ and $\vec{n} \cdot \vec{AP}_{i+1} \neq 0$, then the line $AB$ passes through the vertex $P_i$, so $Q = P_i$. Return to Step 6.

Step 9: Else if $\vec{n} \cdot \vec{AP}_i = 0$ and $\vec{n} \cdot \vec{AP}_{i+1} = 0$, then the edge $P_{i}P_{i+1}$ is aligned with the line $AB$ i.e. the latter passes through both vertexes $P_i$ and $P_{i+1}$, so check which is closer to point $A$ and do as in Step 6, i.e. determine if you need to set any of $P_i$ or $P_{i+1}$ as the new point $Q$. Then increase the index by $2$, , i.e. $i \mapsto i+2$ and go back to Step 2.

After the index $i$ has reached value $n$, you should have the yellow point you want.

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