Connect the dots: how many random points can a regular curve pass through?
Advances in Applied Probability
Given a class Γ of curves in [0, 1]2, we ask: in a cloud of n uniform random points, how many points can lie on some curve γ ∈ Γ? Classes studied here include curves of length less than or equal to L, Lipschitz graphs, monotone graphs, twice-differentiable curves, and graphs of smooth functions with m-bounded derivatives. We find, for example, that there are twice-differentiable curves containing as many as O P (n 1/3) uniform random points, but not essentially more than this. More generally,
... . More generally, we consider point clouds in higher-dimensional cubes [0, 1] d and regular hypersurfaces of specified codimension, finding, for example, that twice-differentiable k-dimensional hypersurfaces in R d may contain as many as O P (n k/(2d-k)) uniform random points. We also consider other notions of 'incidence', such as curves passing through given location/direction pairs, and find, for example, that twice-differentiable curves in R 2 may pass through at most O P (n 1/4) uniform random location/direction pairs. Idealized applications in image processing and perceptual psychophysics are described and several open mathematical questions are identified for the attention of the probability community.