# simplify¶

Line reduction using the Douglas-Peucker algorithm

## Synopsis¶

**gmt simplify** [ *table* ] **-T***tolerance*[*unit*]
[ **-V**[*level*] ]
[ **-b**binary ]
[ **-d**nodata ]
[ **-e**regexp ]
[ **-f**flags ]
[ **-g**gaps ]
[ **-h**headers ]
[ **-i**flags ]
[ **-o**flags ]
[ **-:**[**i**|**o**] ]
[ **--PAR**=*value* ]

**Note:** No space is allowed between the option flag and the associated arguments.

## Description¶

**simplify** reads one or more data files and apply the Douglas-Peucker
line simplification algorithm. The method recursively subdivides a
polygon until a run of points can be replaced by a straight line
segment, with no point in that run deviating from the straight line by
more than the tolerance. Have a look at this site to get a visual
insight on how the algorithm works
(http://geometryalgorithms.com/Archive/algorithm_0205/algorithm_0205.htm)

## Required Arguments¶

**-T***tolerance*[*unit*]- Specifies the maximum mismatch tolerance in the user units. If the data are not Cartesian then append a suitable distance unit (see Units).

## Optional Arguments¶

*table*- One or more ASCII (or binary, see
**-bi**[*ncols*][*type*]) data table file(s) holding a number of data columns. If no tables are given then we read from standard input.

**-V**[*level*] (more …)- Select verbosity level [c].

**-bi**[*ncols*][**t**] (more …)- Select native binary format for primary input. [Default is 2 input columns].

**-bo**[*ncols*][*type*] (more …)- Select native binary output. [Default is same as input].

**-d**[**i**|**o**]*nodata*(more …)- Replace input columns that equal
*nodata*with NaN and do the reverse on output.

**-e**[**~**]*”pattern”***|****-e**[**~**]/*regexp*/[**i**] (more …)- Only accept data records that match the given pattern.

**-f**[**i**|**o**]*colinfo*(more …)- Specify data types of input and/or output columns.

**-g**[**a**]**x**|**y**|**d**|**X**|**Y**|**D**|[*col*]**z***gap*[**u**][**+n**|**p**] (more …)- Determine data gaps and line breaks.

**-h**[**i**|**o**][*n*][**+c**][**+d**][**+r***remark*][**+r***title*] (more …)- Skip or produce header record(s).

**-i***cols*[**+l**][**+s***scale*][**+o***offset*][,*…*] (more …)- Select input columns and transformations (0 is first column).

**-o***cols*[,…] (more …)- Select output columns (0 is first column).

**-:**[**i**|**o**] (more …)- Swap 1st and 2nd column on input and/or output.

**-^**or just**-**- Print a short message about the syntax of the command, then exits (NOTE: on Windows just use
**-**). **-+**or just**+**- Print an extensive usage (help) message, including the explanation of any module-specific option (but not the GMT common options), then exits.
**-?**or no arguments- Print a complete usage (help) message, including the explanation of all options, then exits.
**--PAR**=*value*- Temporarily override a GMT default setting; repeatable. See gmt.conf for parameters.

## Units¶

For map distance unit, append *unit* **d** for arc degree, **m** for arc
minute, and **s** for arc second, or **e** for meter [Default], **f**
for foot, **k** for km, **M** for statute mile, **n** for nautical mile,
and **u** for US survey foot. By default we compute such distances using
a spherical approximation with great circles (**-jg**). You can use **-jf** to perform
“Flat Earth” calculations (quicker but less accurate) or **-je** to perform
exact geodesic calculations (slower but more accurate; see
PROJ_GEODESIC for method used).

## ASCII Format Precision¶

The ASCII output formats of numerical data are controlled by parameters
in your gmt.conf file. Longitude and latitude are formatted
according to FORMAT_GEO_OUT, absolute time is
under the control of FORMAT_DATE_OUT and
FORMAT_CLOCK_OUT, whereas general floating point values are formatted
according to FORMAT_FLOAT_OUT. Be aware that the format in effect
can lead to loss of precision in ASCII output, which can lead to various
problems downstream. If you find the output is not written with enough
precision, consider switching to binary output (**-bo** if available) or
specify more decimals using the FORMAT_FLOAT_OUT setting.

## Examples¶

To reduce the geographic line segment.txt using a tolerance of 2 km, run

gmt simplify segment.txt -T2k > new_segment.txt

To reduce the Cartesian lines xylines.txt using a tolerance of 0.45 and write the reduced lines to file new_xylines.txt, run

gmt simplify xylines.txt -T0.45 > new_xylines.txt

## Notes¶

There is a slight difference in how **simplify** processes lines versus
closed polygons. Segments that are explicitly closed will be considered
polygons, otherwise we treat them as line segments. Hence, segments
recognized as polygons may reduce to a 3-point polygon with no area;
these are suppressed from the output.

## Bugs¶

One known issue with the Douglas-Peucker has to do with crossovers.
Specifically, it cannot be guaranteed that the reduced line does not
cross itself. Depending on how many lines you are considering it is also
possible that reduced lines may intersect other reduced lines. Finally,
the current implementation only does Flat Earth calculations even if you
specify spherical; **simplify** will issue a warning and reset the
calculation mode to Flat Earth.

## References¶

Douglas, D. H., and T. K. Peucker, Algorithms for the reduction of the
number of points required to represent a digitized line of its
caricature, *Can. Cartogr.*, **10**, 112-122, 1973.

This implementation of the algorithm has been kindly provided by Dr. Gary J. Robinson, Department of Meteorology, University of Reading, Reading, UK; his subroutine forms the basis for this program.