transform_graph Documentation


Library for computing transformations in arbitrary graph structures.

transform_graph is a library for computing transformations between coordinate frames. It is similar to the tf library but is more lightweight.

Differences from tf

Quick start

transform_graph::Graph maintains the graph of transformations and is the primary interface to transform_graph:

#include "transform_graph/transform_graph.h"

int main(int argc, char** argv) {
  transform_graph::Graph graph; 
  return 0;

Add frames to the graph using transform_graph::Graph::Add:

transform_graph::Graph graph;

geometry_msgs::Pose torso_pose;
pose.position.z = 0.4;
pose.orientation.w = 1;

graph.Add("torso_lift_link", transform_graph::RefFrame("base_link"), torso_pose);

Get points in different frames using transform_graph::Graph::DescribePosition. In this example, we want to know what a point 10 cm in front of the robot's wrist is, expressed in the base frame:

geometry_msgs::Point pt;
pt.x = 0.1;
transform_graph::Transform pt_in_base;
graph.DescribePosition(pt, transform_graph::Source("wrist"), transform_graph::Target("base_link"), &pt_in_base);
Eigen::Vector3d v = pt_in_base.vector();

Types used by transform_graph

transform_graph::Transform is the library's representation of a transformation. Similarly, transform_graph::Position and transform_graph::Orientation describe positions and orientations. Many common types, (e.g., geometry_msgs::Point, Eigen::Quaterniond, geometry_msgs::Pose, pcl::PointXYZ) can be implicitly converted into their transform_graph equivalents. See transform.h for a list of types that can be implicitly converted. transform_graph types can also be converted back into several common types (e.g., transform_graph::Transform::pose(), transform_graph::Position::pcl_point(), transform_graph::Orientation::quaternion()).

Types like transform_graph::Source, transform_graph::RefFrame, transform_graph::From, etc. are wrappers around strings and are intended to help clarify the meaning of function arguments.

Describing vs. Mapping

transform_graph supports two operations, *describing* and *mapping*, which are different ways of thinking about the same thing.

To *describe* a point is to express the coordinates of the point in a different frame of reference, called the target frame. For example, suppose there is a left wrist frame at (0, 0.3, 0) and a right wrist frame at (0, -0.3, 0) and they have the same orientation. The position of the right wrist is (0, 0, 0) in the right wrist frame but can be described in the frame of the left wrist as (0, -0.6, 0). Similarly, the point (0.1, 0, 0) in the right wrist frame can be written as (0.1, -0.6, 0) in the left wrist frame.

To *map* a vector is to "move" a vector into a new frame, instead of looking at the same vector in a different reference frame. Another way to think about it is applying the same rotation and translation to the vector that it took to move between the two frames. For example, using the same setup as above, you can "move" the point (0.1, 0, 0) from the left wrist frame into the right wrist frame. When described in the left wrist frame, the mapped point is (0.1, -0.6, 0).

The equivalence is that to map a vector *from* the left *to* the right is the same as having the vector be located in the right frame to start with (the *source*) and to describe it in the *target* frame of the left. Most of the time, it's easier to think about the problem as "describing," but it can occasionally be helpful to think about it as "mapping" instead. Below is a summary of frame relationships:

UsageReference frameLocal frame

ComputeDescription vs. DescribePosition

Each time you call transform_graph::Graph::DescribePosition or transform_graph::Graph::MapPosition, transform_graph finds a path of transformations between the frames and multiplies the point through the chain from right to left, which leads to fewer multiplications than doing so left to right. However, if you are going to transform many points between the same two frames, it will be more efficient to just multiply all of the matrices along the transformation chain once and use the resulting matrix over and over. To do so, call transform_graph::Graph::ComputeDescription. For convenience, you can always place the result back into the graph. transform_graph will always use this transform because it will be the shortest path between the two frames.

For example, suppose we want to transform thousands of points in a point cloud into the wrist frame.

// Compute the frame describing the Kinect frame relative to the wrist frame.
transform_graph::Transform cloud_in_wrist;
graph.ComputeDescription("head_mount_kinect", transform_graph::RefFrame("wrist"), &cloud_in_wrist);

// Add it back into the graph.
graph.Add("head_mount_kinect", transform_graph::RefFrame("wrist"), cloud_in_wrist);

for (size_t i=0; i<cloud.size(); ++i) {
  const pcl::PointXYZ& pt = cloud.points[i];
  transform_graph::Position pt_in_wrist;
  graph.DescribePosition(pt, transform_graph::Source("head_mount_kinect"), transform_graph::Target("wrist"), &pt_in_wrist);

Graph details

autogenerated on Thu Feb 8 2018 03:44:12