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An effective anchoring model for the patterned surface with bidirectional rubbing by atomic force microscope was proposed. The model was a simple additive function of two bidirectional anchoring contributions of the patterned surface, with consideration of higher-order terms of the anchoring function. The bistable switching behavior of the nematic liquid crystal cells with the patterned surface was investigated analytically and numerically using this anchoring model. © 2002 American Institute of Physics.