Cutting to the chase
Clearly you don't need a PhD in Computing to sweep in the yard , but one might be usefull in order to know linear and radial sweep algorithm. So , what's all about ? It's just what it sounds it is , sweeping linear ( up to down , for example ) or radial ( making a 360 degrees loop ).
How this can help ? Well...
Suppose you a set of objects in an Euclidean plane. We need to extract information about some objects. The method of linear sweeping takes a line and moves it on a fixed direction. Usually the line taken would be vertical and the direction would be left to right or up to down.
Quite abstract for the moment , huh ? Let's go to a more specific example.
Rectangle union area
This example is well known. You have a set of rectangles with edges parallel to the OX and OY axes. What is their union area.
Well , first of all , let's take a particular case in order to achieve a different perspective. Let's suppose the lower edges are fixed on the OX axis. This would lead us to the following case :
Now let's take a look at the property we established. The property fixes the lower edge. So the only edge we are interested in is the upper edge. The other two will be united by the point projections of the ends of the edge. For example D and C will be projected in B and A. Furthermore , these edges are useless in our problem so we will take into acount only the upper edges.
Now as we established that the sweep can go. We will "move" an imaginary line from left to right. As we meet a left corner of the segment we should take it into account for the moment. When we reach it's end it should not be considered any more. On a space between two sweep lines we take all the active segments and memorise the bigest Y. The area added would be
maxY * length between sweep lines.
Basically , it would go like that: