I have a multipolygon layer, in which some geometries are circles, drawn in an unknown GIS. How can I select only those features which are circular? A quick manual check confirms that circular features do not all have the same number of points/vertices.


You could use the field calculator in order to check whether the minimal circle differs much from the actual shape, e.g. by calculating the $area.


This checks, whether the the area of the minimal circle is smaller than the area of the original geometry times 1.05 (5 % tolerance accounting for different number of vertices) and will select the geometry, if this is the case.

  • Am I right that this works for single-part, but not multiparts? I guess minimal_circle() is for the whole feature, not the parts. I'll see if I can handle taht in the expression as well. – Tom Chadwin Feb 10 at 16:30
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    The minimal circle computation is probably a bit expensive to compute - use the ratio of perimeter to area and the fact that a circle has the maximal perimeter:area ratio of any shape. Features with more than one ring can't be circles so filter those out first? – Spacedman Feb 10 at 16:52

The isoperimetric quotient of a circle in a plane equals 1. You could explode your multipart features. Add a new attribute and calculate the area of your polygons. Add a new attribute and calculate the perimeter of the polygons. Then use the field calculator to generate the IQ of the polygons in the attribute table using this formula:

Q = 4 pi A / P^2

For shapefiles the polygons will never be perfect circles since each will be using points to define the shapes of the polygons but the polygons with IQs closer to 1 will be circles.

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