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The paper demonstrates how discrete exterior calculus (DEC) tools may be useful in computer vision and graphics. A variational approach provides a link with mechanics. Our development of DEC includes discrete differential forms, discrete vector fields and the operators acting on these. This development of a discrete calculus, when combined with the methods of discrete mechanics and other recent work is likely to have promising applications in a field like computer vision which offers such a rich variety of challenging variational problems to be solved computationally. As a specific example we consider the problem of template matching and show how numerical methods derived from a discrete exterior calculus are starting to play an important role in solving the equations of averaged template matching. We also show some example applications using variational problems from computer graphics and mechanics to demonstrate that formulating the problem discretely and using discrete methods for solution can lead to efficient algorithms.