Multiresolution image segmentation
Image segmentation is an important area in the general field of image processing and computer vision. It is a fundamental part of the 'low level' aspects of computer vision and has many practical applications such as in medical imaging, industrial automation and satellite imagery. Traditional methods for image segmentation have approached the problem either from localisation in class space using region information, or from localisation in position, using edge or boundary information. More recently, however, attempts have been made to combine both region and boundary information in order to overcome the inherent limitations of using either approach alone. In this thesis, a new approach to image segmentation is presented that integrates region and boundary information within a multiresolution framework. The role of uncertainty is described, which imposes a limit on the simultaneous localisation in both class and position space. It is shown how a multiresolution approach allows the trade-off between position and class resolution and ensures both robustness in noise and efficiency of computation. The segmentation is based on an image model derived from a general class of multiresolution signal models, which incorporates both region and boundary features. A four stage algorithm is described consisting of: generation of a low-pass pyramid, separate region and boundary estimation processes and an integration strategy. Both the region and boundary processes consist of scale-selection, creation of adjacency graphs, and iterative estimation within a general framework of maximum a posteriori (MAP) estimation and decision theory. Parameter estimation is performed in situ, and the decision processes are both flexible and spatially local, thus avoiding assumptions about global homogeneity or size and number of regions which characterise some of the earlier algorithms. A method for robust estimation of edge orientation and position is described which addresses the problem in the form of a multiresolution minimum mean square error (MMSE) estimation. The method effectively uses the spatial consistency of output of small kernel gradient operators from different scales to produce more reliable edge position and orientation and is effective at extracting boundary orientations from data with low signal-to-noise ratios. Segmentation results are presented for a number of synthetic and natural images which show the cooperative method to give accurate segmentations at low signal-to-noise ratios (0 dB) and to be more effective than previous methods at capturing complex region shapes.