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Abstract
Histogram equalization (HE) is widely used for contrast
enhancement in digital images. However, this technique is not
very well suited to be implemented in consumer electronics,
such as television, because the method tends to introduce
unnecessary visual deterioration such as the saturation
effect. One of the solutions to overcome this weakness is by
preserving the mean brightness of the input image inside the
output image. For improving the contrast in digital images,
Histogram Equalization (HE) is one of the common methods
used for contrast enhancement. But, this technique is not well
suited for its implementation in consumer electronics, as this
method will introduce visual deterioration such as saturation
effect. To overcome this weakness the solution is to preserve
the mean brightness of the input image inside the output image.
In this paper there is a comparison of HE with Recursively
Separated and Weighted Histogram Equalization (RSWHE)
and Brightness Preserving Dynamic Histogram Equalization
(BPDHE). The essential idea of RSWHE is to segment an input
histogram into two or more subhistograms recursively to modify
the subhistograms by means of a weighting process based on
a normalized power law function, and to perform histogram
equalization on the weighted subhistograms independently.
RSIHE (Recursive Sub Image Histogram Equalization) and
RMSHE (Recursive Mean Separate Histogram Equalization)
are some methods similar to RSWHE, but they do not carry out
the above weighting process. We show that compared to other
existent methods, RSWHE preserves the image brightness
more accurately and produces images with better contrast
enhancement. It will enhance the image without severe side
effects, and at the same time maintain input mean brightness.
Comparison is done on the basis of different parameters like
Image Brightness Mean (IBM), Image Contrast Standard
Deviation (ICSD) and Peak Signal to Noise Ratio (PSNR).
Keywords
Image contrast enhancement, histogram equalization,
brightness preserving enhancement, histogram partition.
I. Introduction
The histogram of a discrete graylevel image represents
the frequency of occurrence of all graylevels in the image
[18]. Histogram equalization is widely used for contrast
enhancement in a variety of applications due to its simple
function and effectiveness. It works by fattening the histogram
and stretching the dynamic range of the graylevels by using
the cumulative density function of the image. One drawback
of the histogram equalization is that the brightness of an
image is changed after the histogram equalization, hence not
suitable for consumer electronic products, where preserving
the original brightness and enhancing contrast are essential
to avoid annoying artifacts.
Brightness preserving bihistogram equalization (BBHE) [1],
divides the input histogram into two subsections based on
the mean value. Dualistic subimage histogram equalization
(DSIHE), which has been proposed by Y.Wang, Q. Chen and
B. Zhang [2], also separates the input histogram into two
subsections, but the separation is based on the median value.
Chen and Ramli also have proposed another method called
recursive meanseparate histogram equalization (RMSHE)
[3]. RMSHE recursively divides the histogram into several
subsections based on the local mean values. The number of
subsections is set by the user. Brightness preserving dynamic
histogram equalization (BPDHE) [11], which has been proposed
by Haidi and Nicholas, divides the histogram into several
subsections and equalizes them independently. However, in
BPDHE, the division of the histogram is carried out based on
the locations of the local maximums of the input histogram
itself. In order to enhance contrast, preserve brightness and
produce natural looking, we have studied a new method called
Recursively Separated and Weighted Histogram Equalization
(RSWHE). The essential idea of RSWHE is to segment an input
histogram into two or more subhistograms recursively, to
modify the subhistograms by means of a weighting process
based on a normalized power law function, and to perform
histogram equalization on the weighted subuhistograms
independently. RSWHE consists of three modules: (histogram
segmentation module) split an input histogram into two or
more subhistograms recursively based on the mean or median
of the image; (histogram weighting module) change the sub
histograms through a weighting process based on a normalized
power law function; (histogram equalization module) lastly,
equalize the weighted subhistograms independently.
Results of all the methods are presented, discussed and
compared with HE method in the section IV. The section V
serves as the conclusion of this work.
II. Previous Work
This section describes previous works in the literature which
make use of the HE method with the purpose of brightness
preserving. We start by describing the Histogram Equalization
(HE) method in Section II.A. The HE method was the base for the
other two methods, namely BBHE and DSIHE. These methods
decompose the input image into two subimages while RMSHE,
MHE, DRSHE, BPDHE and RSWHE methods decompose the
input image into more than two subimages and then equalize
the histograms of these subimages independently.
A. Histogram Equalization (HE)
Let X={X (i,j)} denote a given image composed of L discrete
gray levels denote as
{ }
0 1 1
, ,.....,
L
X X X
−
where X(i,j)
represents an intensity of image at the spatial location (i,j)
and
0 1 1
( , ) { , ,....., }
L
X i j X X X
−
∈ .The histogram provides
information for the contrast and overall intensity distribution of
an image [18]. The histogram of a digital image with gray levels
in the range [0, L1] is a frequency distribution function defned
as overall intensity distribution of an image. For a given image
X, the probability density function p (Xk) is defned by:
( )
k
k
n
p X
n
=
(1)
For k = 0, 1. . , L1, where nk represents the number of times
that the level Xk appears in the input image X and n is the
total number of samples in the input image. The cumulative
density function is defned as:
Performance Evaluation of Contrast Enhancement
Techniques for Digital Images
1
Vinay Kumar,
2
Himani Bansal
1,2
ECE Department, NIT, Kurukshetra, Harayana, India
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( ) ( )
0
k
c X p X
j j k
= ∑
= (2)
Where k = 0, 1. . . L  1. Note that c(X L 1) = 1 by defnition.
Histogram equalization is a scheme that maps the input image
into the entire dynamic range, (Xo, XL1); by using the cumulative
density function as a transform function. A transform function
f(x) is based on the cumulative density function as:
0 1 0
( ) ( ) ( )
L
f x X X X c x
−
= + − × (3)
HE has an effect of stretching the dynamic range of a given
histogram since HE fattens the density distribution of the
image.
B. Brightness BiHistogram Equalization (BBHE)
In order to overcome the drawback introduced by the HE method
described in the previous subsection, a brightness preserving
BiHE (BBHE) method was proposed in [1]. The essence of the
BBHE method is to decompose the original image into two
subimages, by using the image mean graylevel, and then
apply the HE method on each of the subimages. In [1], it is
mathematically shown that the BBHE method produces an
output image with the value of brightness (the mean graylevel)
located in the middle of the mean of the input image and the
middle graylevel (i.e., L/2).
Let X = { X ( i , j ) } denote a given image composed of L intensity
levels denoted as { X O , X I , . . ' , X L  1 } ,where X ( i , j )
represents an intensity of the image at the spatial location ( i
, j ) and X ( i , j )
∈
{XO,X1,…, X L  1 } and Xm denote the mean
gray level of the image X. Based on the mean, the input image
is decomposed into two sub images XL and XU as
X X X
L U
= ∪
(4)
where
{ }
( , ) ( , ) , ( , )
U m
X X i j X i j X X i j X = > ∀ ∈
(5)
{ }
( , ) ( , ) , ( , )
L m
X X i j X i j X X i j X = ≤ ∀ ∈ (6)
Where sub image XL is a set of
{ }
0 1 2
, , ,....,
m
X X X X
gray levels
and the other sub image
U
X is a set of { }
1 2 1
, ,....,
m m L
X X X
+ + −
gray levels. Probability density functions of the sub image XL
and
U
X is 
( )
k
n
L
p X
L k
n
L
=
, where k = 0, 1…..,m. (7)
( )
k
n
U
p X
U k
n
U
=
, where k = m+1, m+1…..,L1. (8)
where nkL and nkU represent the respective numbers of Xk
gray level in sub image XL, and sub image XU, and nL and nU
represent the total numbers of pixels in sub images XL and
XU, respectively. Here
1
1
L
k
U U
k m
n n
−
= +
=
∑
,
0
m
k
L L
k
n n
=
=
∑
and
L U
n n n = +
. The respective cumulative density functions for
sub image XL and sub image XU are defned as 
0
( ) ( )
k
L k L j
j
c X p X
=
=
∑
(9)
0
( ) ( )
k
U k U j
j
c X p X
=
=
∑
(10)
where C L ( X m ) = 1 and CU ( X L  l ) = 1 by defnition. The
transfer function of each sub images is defned by cumulative
density function i.e.
( ) ( ) ( )
L o m o L
f x X X X c x = + −
(11)
( )
1 1 1
( ) ( )
U m L m U
f x X X X c x
+ − +
= + −
(12)
Based on these transform functions, the decomposed sub
images are equalized independently and the composition of
the resulting equalized sub images constitutes the output of
the BBHE. That is fnally expressed as
{ } ( , ) ( ) ( )
L L U U
Y Y i j f X f X = = ∪
(13)
( ) ( ) ( ) { }
( ) , ,
L L L L
f X f X i j X i j X = ∀ ∈
(14)
( ) ( ) ( ) { }
( ) , ,
U U U U
f X f X i j X i j X = ∀ ∈
(15)
As we know that
0 ( ), ( ) 1
L U
c x c x ≤ ≤
, so it is easy to
understand that fL(XL) equalizes the sub image XL over the
range
0
( , )
m
X X
whereas
( )
U U
f X
equalizes the sub image
XU over the range (Xm+1, XL1). As a consequence, the input
image X is equalized over the entire dynamic range (XO, XL1)
with the constraint that the samples less than the input mean
are mapped to 0
( , )
m
X X
and the samples greater than the
mean are mapped to (Xm+1, XL1).
C. Dualistic SubImage Histogram Equalization (DSIHE)
Dualistic subimage histogram equalization (DSIHE) [2] also
separates the input histogram into two subsections. Both
BBHE and DSIHE are similar except that DSIHE chooses to
separate the histogram based on gray level with cumulative
probability density equal to 0.5 instead of the mean as in BBHE,
i.e. instead of decomposing the image based on its mean gray
level, the DSIHE method decomposes the image aiming at the
maximization of the Shannon's entropy of the output image.
Suppose image X is segmented by a section with gray level
of X = Xe, and the two subimages are XL and XU, so we have
L U
X X X = ∪ , Here
( ) ( ) ( ) { }
, , , ,
L e
X X i j X i j X X i j X = < ∀ ∈
(16)
( ) ( ) ( ) { }
, , , ,
U e
X X i j X i j X X i j X = ≥ ∀ ∈
(17)
Where subimage XL is composed by gray level of
{ }
0 1 1
, ,.....,
e
X X X
−
, while subimage XU is composed by gray
level of
{ }
1 1
, ,.....,
e e L
X X X
+ −
. The aggregation of the original
image's gray level probability distribution is decomposed into
( )
L k
p X where k =0, 1 …e1 and
( )
L k
p X
where k=e, e+1…
L1 correspondingly. Probability density functions, cumulative
distribution functions and the transform functions are obtained
from equation no. 7 to equation no. 12.
The result of the dualistic subimage histogram equalization
is obtained after the two equalized sub images are composed
into one image. Suppose Y is the Output image, then
( ) { } ( ) ( ) ,
L L U U
Y Y i j f X f X = = ∪
(18)
( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) { }
, ,
L L L L
f X f X i j X i j X = ∀ ∈ (19)
( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) { }
, ,
U U U U
f X f X i j X i j X = ∀ ∈
(20)
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( )
( ) ( )
( ) ( )
0 1 0
1
,
,
,
e L e
e L e U
X X X c X if X X
Y i j
X X X c X otherwise
−
−
¦ + − <
¦
=
´
+ −
¦
¹
(21)
D. Recursive Mean  Separate HE Method (RMSHE)
In Recursive meanseparate histogram equalization (RMSHE)
[3] method, instead of decomposing the image only once, it is
proposed to perform image decomposition recursively, up to a
scale r, generating 2r subimages. After that, each one of these
subimages is independently enhanced using the Histogram
Equalization (HE) method. When r = 0 (no subimages are
generated) and r =1, the RMSHE method is equivalent to
the HE and BBHE methods, respectively. In this method, the
preservation of the output image increases as r (separation
level) increases.
E. Brightness Preserving Dynamic Histogram Equalization
(BPDHE)
In BPDHE [11] method the original image is decomposed into
multiple sub images according to their local maxima, then
the dynamic histogram equalization is applied to each sub
image and fnally, the sub images are combined. It divides
the histogram based on the local maxima. It produces the
output image with the mean intensity almost equal to the mean
intensity of the input, thus fulfls the requirement of maintaining
the mean brightness of the image. This method smoothes the
input histograms with one dimensional Gaussian flter, and then
partitions the smoothed histogram based on its local maxima.
After that it assigns new dynamic range to each partition. Then,
the histogram equalization process is applied independently
to these partitions, based on this new dynamic range and the
output image is normalized to the input mean brightness.
F. Recursive Separated and Weighted Histogram
Equalization (RSWHE)
RSWHE consists of three modules (see Fig. 1): histogram
segmentation, histogram weighting, and histogram equalization.
The histogram segmentation module takes the input image X,
computes the input histogram H(X) and recursively divides
the input histogram into two or more subhistograms. The
histogram weighting module modifes the subhistograms by
using a normalized power law function. Lastly, the histogram
equalization module runs histogram equalization individually
over each of the modifed subhistograms.
1. Histogram Segmentation Module
This module decomposes histograms in the same way as RMSHE
or RSIHE does. It divides the input histogram H(X) recursively
up to some specifed recursion level r, thus generating 2r
subhistograms. In fact, the module produces two kinds of
segmented results. One is based on the means of the sub
histograms and the other one is based on the medians of the
subhistograms. Each algorithm is described below.
(a) Segmentation by Mean
Consider a segmented histogram ( )
t
H X defned over a gray
level range   ,
l u
X X at a recursion level t (0 ≤ t < r). The mean
t
M
X
of the subhistogram
( )
t
H X
is computed by (22),
. ( ) ( )
t
M
k l k l
X k p k p k
µ µ
= =
   
=
 
\ . \ .
∑ ∑
(22)
Based on the computed mean
t
M
X , the histogram ( )
t
H X is
then divided into two subhistograms
1
( )
t
L
H X
+
and
1
( )
t
U
H X
+
for the next recursion level t+1, where
1
( )
t
L
H X
+
and
1
( )
t
U
H X
+
are defned over
,
t
l M
X X (
¸ ¸
and
1,
t
M u
X X ( +
¸ ¸
respectively.
(b) Segmentation by Median
CDF at the gray level Xl is
( )
l
c l m =
and the CDF at
the gray level Xu is ( )
u
c u m = The median
t
D
X of the sub
histogram ( )
t
H X then satisfies ( ) ( ) / 2
t
D l u
c X m m = + In
practice, the median
t
D
X
is calculated from (23),
arg min ( )
2
t l u
D l k u
m m
X c k
≤ ≤
+
= −
(23)
Now, the histogram ( )
t
H X is split into two subhistograms
1
( )
t
L
H X
+
and
1
( )
t
U
H X
+
for the next recursion level t+1 by
using
t
D
X . Note that
1
( )
t
L
H X
+
and
1
( )
t
U
H X
+
are defned over
,
t
l D
X X (
¸ ¸
and
[ 1, ]
t
D u
X X +
respectively. Note that
1
( )
t
L
H X
+
and
1
( )
t
U
H X
+
are defned over ,
t
l D
X X (
¸ ¸
and [ 1, ]
t
D u
X X +
respectively.
Fig. 1: The Functional Block Diagram of RSWHE
2. Histogram Weighting Module
According to the specifed recursion level r, the histogram
segmentation module has generated 2r subhistograms,
( )
r
i
H X (0 2 1)
r
i ≤ ≤ − where ( )
r
i
H X is defned over the range
1 1
[ , ]
l u
X X . For r = 2, the histogram weighting module then
modifes the PDF of the subhistograms ( )
r
i
H X as follows:
(a) Compute both the highest probability
max
p
and the lowest
probability min
p
by using (24) and (25),
max 0 1
max ( )
k L
p p k
≤ ≤ −
=
(24)
min 0 1
min ( )
k L
p p k
≤ ≤ −
=
(25)
(b) For each subhistogram ( )
r
i
H X , compute an accumulative
probability value
i
α by using (26). Note that the sum of all
i
α
’s is equal to 1 (refer to (27)).
( )
i
i
u
i
k l
p k α
=
=
∑
(26)
2 1
0 1 2
2 1
0
, , 1
r
r
i
i
X α α α α
−
−
=
= + + =
∑
(27)
(c) For each subhistogram ( )
r
i
H X , change the corresponding
original PDF p(k) into the weighted PDF
( )
w
p k
by using pre
computed values (i.e.,
max
p
,
min
p
and
i
α ) and equation (28)
( )
max min max min
( ) . ( ) , ( )
i
w i i
p k p p k p p p l k u
α
β = − − + ≤ ≤ (28)
where, β is a value ≥ 0. The degree of the mean brightness
and contrast enhancement of the output image can be
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controlled by adjusting β. It is experimentally found that the
output image of satisfactory quality can be obtained, when β
is around ( )
max max min
. /
M G
p X X X X − −
, where
max
X and
min
X
are the greatest and the least gray levels of the input image
X, respectively.
(d) Due to the above PDF modifcation, the sum of all the values
( )
w
p k
from k = 0 to L1 is no longer one, so the modifed PDF
needs to be normalized. The normalization is done by using
(29). The resultant weighted and normalized PDF, called
( )
wn
p k
is then forwarded to the next histogram equalization module.
1
0
( ) ( ) ( )
L
wn w w
j
p k p k p j
−
=
=
∑
(29)
3. Histogram Equalization Module
Actually, the PDF
( )
wn
p k
consists of
2
r
curve segments, where
the ith curve segment
(0 2 1)
r
i ≤ ≤ −
is bounded by the same
range
1 1
,
l u
X X (
¸ ¸
as that of the ith subhistogram ( )
r
i
H X . The
task of the histogram equalization module is then to separately
equalize each of all
2
r
subhistograms by using equations (1),
(2), and (3). The combination of all resultant subimages now
becomes the fnal output image.
III. Results and Discussions
In this section we compare the performance of all algorithms
according to three parameters (i) Image Brightness mean, (ii)
Image Contrast – standard Deviation, (iii) Peak Signal to Noise
Ratio (PSNR). These three equations are referred from the Multi
– histogram equalization methods for contrast enhancement
and brightness [4].
The results shown in TableI exhibit the brightness preserving
capabilities of various methods considered in this paper.
By observing the absolute difference between the value of
brightness in the original images and the processed images
(i.e., the brightness preservation), we state that: 1) the
images produced by RSWHE method is better in preserving
the brightness; 2) Even though RSWHE method not always the
best brightness preserving ones, their resulting brightness is
always very close to the brightness of the original images in the
table it is shown as a grey shaded area. Apart from this method,
BPDHE is also close to the image mean brightness.
If we analyse the results in Table II; by observing the contrast
values, we fnd that: 1) RSWHE method produces overall
the best image contrast enhancement. It is shown in table
II in grey shaded area. 2) Besides this method DSIHE also
produce good results for image contrast enhancement, 3) The
RMSHE (r=2) method produces relatively small image contrast
enhancement.
Finally we analyse the data presented in Table III, which shows
the abilities of various methods to produce natural looking
images. For the best value of PSNR it should be as much as
possible. We observe that the images processed by the BPDHE
method produce the best PSNR values. After that RMSHE (r=2)
shows better result. As we know that for high PSNR the signal
should be as high as possible and noise should be as small
as possible. But in case of contrast enhancement the noise
is the variation of pixel value and if its variation is less then
it is not possible to increase the contrast of digital image. So
BPDHE even though has have best PSNR, it does not produce
good contrast. Moreover, it does not preserve brightness as
well. Hence when our aim is to enhance the contrast then we
can neglect the PSNR.
“Table 1: Image BrightnessMean
1
( )
0
L
l p l
l
µ
−
 
= × ∑

= \ .
”
Table 2: Image Contrast StandardDeviation
1
( ) ( )
0
l
l p l
l
σ µ
−
= − × ∑
=
 


\ .
Table 3: PSNR =
2
1 2
1
2
10 log10( 1) /
1 1 1 2
l l
L yij oij
i j l l
× − − ∑ ∑
= =
 


\ .
(a) (b) (c)
Fig. 2 : Output RWSHE Method on ‘F16’ Image, (a) Original
Image of ‘F16’, (b) HE Image of ‘F16’, (c) RWSHE Image of
‘F16’
(a) (b) (c)
Fig. 3: Output RWSHE Method on ‘Motion’ Image, (a) Original
Image of ‘Motion’, (b) HE Image of ‘Motion’ , (c) RWSHE Image
of ‘Motion’
After analysing the data presented on Tables 1 – 3 and visually
observing some processed images, we can conclude that: 1)
The RSWHE method produces better images contrast and
also preserve the brightness with better quality than the other
methods; 2) However, a better PSNR can be obtained by the
BPDHE method. Fig. 2(a) shows the original image of ‘F16’ [20],
fg. 2(b) & 1(c) show the result of HE and RWSHE method. Fig.
3(a), 3(b) & 3(c) shows the original image of ‘MOTION’, result
of HE and RWSHE method respectively.
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IV. Conclusions
This paper has presented an algorithm for contrast
enhancement of digital images. In general, it is observed that
contrast enhancement and high PSNR are two conficting
requirements. The performances of various algorithms are
compared according to three parameters namely, Image
Brightness Mean, Image ContrastStandard Deviation and
PSNR. It is observed that RWSHE algorithm produces the
best image contrast enhancement among all whereas DSIHE
and RMSHE are next two algorithms producing good image
contrast enhancement. The experiments showed that BPDHE
and RMSHE are well suited for preserving the brightness
of the processed image (in relation to the original one) and
yield images with natural appearance, at the cost of contrast
enhancement. However, where the main objective is to enhance
the contrast of the image and preserve its brightness, thus as
shown by the results of Table I & III, RWSHE is the best method
among those considered in the present study.
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Vinay Kumar received his B.E and M.Tech.
degrees in Electronics and Communication
Engineering, from the Pt. Ravi Shankar
Shukla University and National Institute of
Technoloy, Kurukshetra (NIT KKR), India in
2006 and 2009, respectively. He is currently
an Assistant Professor of the Department of
Electronics and Communication Engineering
at NIT KKR. His research interest includes
image enhancement, noise reduction, image segmentation,
3D visualization, and communication.
Himani Bansal received her B.Tech and M.E.
degrees in Electronics and Communication
Engineering, from the Punjab Technical
Uni ver si t y, Jal andhar and Panj ab
University,Chandigarh, India in 2007 and
2009, respectively. She is currently an Assistant
Professor of the Department of Electronics and
Communication Engineering at NIT KKR. She is
interested in digital image processing, digital video signal
processing, image data fusion, optoelectronic data acquisition
and processing.
InternatIonal Journal of Computer SCIenCe and teChnology 27
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