Anisotropic Diffusion

in Image Processing
Joachim Weickert
B.G. Teubner Stuttgart
Anisotropic Diffusion
in Image Processing
Joachim Weickert
Department of Computer Science
University of Copenhagen
Copenhagen, Denmark
B.G. Teubner Stuttgart 1998
Dr. rer. nat. Joachim Weickert
Born in 1965 in Ludwigshafen/Germany. Studies in mathematics, physics and com-
puter science at the University of Kaiserslautern. 1987 B.Sc. in physics and indus-
trial mathematics. 1991 M.Sc. in industrial mathematics. 1996 Ph.D. in mathe-
matics. Postdoctoral researcher at the Image Sciences Institute at Utrecht Uni-
versity from 2/96 to 3/97. Since then visiting assistant research professor at the
Department of Computer Science, Copenhagen University.
The cover image shows a thresholded nonwoven fabric image which was processed
by applying a coherence-enhancing anisotropic diffusion filter (see Section 5.2 for
more details). The goal was to visualize the quality relevant adjacent fibre struc-
tures, so-called stripes. The displayed equations describe the basic structure of
nonlinear diffusion filtering in the continuous, semidiscrete, and fully discrete set-
ting. Their theoretical foundations are treated in Chapters 2–4.
c ( Copyright 2008 by Joachim Weickert.
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced by any means, or
transmitted, or translated into a machine language without the written permission
of the author.
This book had been published by B. G. Teubner (Stuttgart) in 1998 and went out
of print in 2001. The copyright has been returned to the author in 2008. In the
current version a few typos and other errors have been corrected.
To my parents Gerda and Norbert
Preface
Partial differential equations (PDEs) have led to an entire new field in image
processing and computer vision. Hundreds of publications have appeared in the last
decade, and PDE-based methods have played a central role at several conferences
and workshops.
The success of these techniques is not really surprising, since PDEs have proved
their usefulness in areas such as physics and engineering sciences for a very long
time. In image processing and computer vision, they offer several advantages:
• Deep mathematical results with respect to well-posedness are available, such
that stable algorithms can be found. PDE-based methods are one of the
mathematically best-founded techniques in image processing.
• They allow a reinterpretation of several classical methods under a novel uni-
fying framework. This includes many well-known techniques such as Gaussian
convolution, median filtering, dilation or erosion.
• This understanding has also led to the discovery of new methods. They
can offer more invariances than classical techniques, or describe novel ways
of shape simplification, structure preserving filtering, and enhancement of
coherent line-like structures.
• The PDE formulation is genuinely continuous. Thus, their approximations
aim to be independent of the underlying grid and may reveal good rotational
invariance.
PDE-based image processing techniques are mainly used for smoothing and
restoration purposes. Many evolution equations for restoring images can be de-
rived as gradient descent methods for minimizing a suitable energy functional, and
the restored image is given by the steady-state of this process. Typical PDE tech-
niques for image smoothing regard the original image as initial state of a parabolic
(diffusion-like) process, and extract filtered versions from its temporal evolution.
The whole evolution can be regarded as a so-called scale-space, an embedding of
the original image into a family of subsequently simpler, more global representa-
tions of it. Since this introduces a hierarchy into the image structures, one can use
a scale-space representation for extracting semantically important information.
One of the two goals of this book is to give an overview of the state-of-the-art of
PDE-based methods for image enhancement and smoothing. Emphasis is put on a
v
vi PREFACE
unified description of the underlying ideas, theoretical results, numerical approxi-
mations, generalizations and applications, but also historical remarks and pointers
to open questions can be found. Although being concise, this part covers a broad
spectrum: it includes for instance an early Japanese scale-space axiomatic, the
Mumford–Shah functional for image segmentation, continuous-scale morphology,
active contour models and shock filters. Many references are given which point the
reader to useful original literature for a task at hand.
The second goal of this book is to present an in-depth treatment of an interest-
ing class of parabolic equations which may bridge the gap between scale-space and
restoration ideas: nonlinear diffusion filters. Methods of this type have been pro-
posed for the first time by Perona and Malik in 1987 [326]. In order to smooth an
image and to simultaneously enhance important features such as edges, they apply
a diffusion process whose diffusivity is steered by derivatives of the evolving image.
These filters are difficult to analyse mathematically, as they may act locally like
a backward diffusion process. This gives rise to well-posedness questions. On the
other hand, nonlinear diffusion filters are frequently applied with very impressive
results; so there appears the need for a theoretical foundation.
We shall develop results in this direction by investigating a general class of
nonlinear diffusion processes. This class comprises linear diffusion filters as well as
spatial regularizations of the Perona–Malik process, but it also allows processes
which replace the scalar diffusivity by a diffusion tensor. Thus, the diffusive flux
does not have to be parallel to the grey value gradient: the filters may become
anisotropic. Anisotropic diffusion filters can outperform isotropic ones with respect
to certain applications such as denoising of highly degraded edges or enhancing
coherent flow-like images by closing interrupted one-dimensional structures. In or-
der to establish well-posedness and scale-space properties for this class, we shall
investigate existence, uniqueness, stability, maximum–minimum principles, Lya-
punov functionals, and invariances. The proofs present mathematical results from
the nonlinear analysis of partial differential equations.
Since digital images are always sampled on a pixel grid, it is necessary to know
if the results for the continuous framework carry over to the practically relevant
discrete setting. These questions are an important topic of the present book as
well. A general characterization of semidiscrete and fully discrete filters, which
reveal similar properties as their continuous diffusion counterparts, is presented. It
leads to a semidiscrete and fully discrete scale-space theory for nonlinear diffusion
processes. Mathematically, this comes down to the study of nonlinear systems of
ordinary differential equations and the theory of nonnegative matrices.
Organization of the book. Image processing and computer vision are inter-
disciplinary areas, where researchers, practitioners and students may have a very
different scientific background and differing intentions. As a consequence, I have
tried to keep this book as self-contained as possible, and to include various aspects
PREFACE vii
such that it should contain interesting material for many readers. The prerequisites
are kept to a minimum and can be found in standard textbooks on image process-
ing [163], matrix analysis [407], functional analysis [9, 58, 7], ordinary differential
equations [56, 412], partial differential equations [185] and their numerical aspects
[293, 286]. The book is organized as follows:
Chapter 1 surveys the fundamental ideas behind PDE-based smoothing and
restoration methods. This general overview sketches their theoretical properties,
numerical methods, applications and generalizations. The discussed methods in-
clude linear and nonlinear diffusion filtering, coupled diffusion–reaction methods,
PDE analogues of classical morphological processes, Euclidean and affine invariant
curve evolutions, and total variation methods.
The subsequent three chapters explore a theoretical framework for anisotropic
diffusion filtering. Chapter 2 presents a general model for the continuous setting
where the diffusion tensor depends on the structure tensor (interest operator,
second-moment matrix), a generalization of the Gaussian-smoothed gradient al-
lowing a more sophisticated description of local image structure. Existence and
uniqueness are discussed, and stability and an extremum principle are proved.
Scale-space properties are investigated with respect to invariances and information-
reducing qualities resulting from associated Lyapunov functionals.
Chapter 3 establishes conditions under which comparable well-posedness and
scale-space results can be proved for the semidiscrete framework. This case takes
into account the spatial discretization which is characteristic for digital images,
but it keeps the scale-space idea of using a continuous scale parameter. It leads
to nonlinear systems of ordinary differential equations. We shall investigate under
which conditions it is possible to get consistent approximations of the continuous
anisotropic filter class which satisfy the abovementioned requirements.
In practice, scale-spaces can only be calculated for a finite number of scales,
though. This corresponds to the fully discrete case which is treated in Chapter
4. The investigated discrete filter class comes down to solving linear systems of
equations which may arise from semi-implicit time discretizations of the semidis-
crete filters. We shall see that many numerical schemes share typical features
with their semidiscrete counterparts, for instance well-posedness results, extremum
principles, Lyapunov functionals, and convergence to a constant steady-state. This
chapter also shows how one can design efficient numerical methods which are in
accordance with the fully discrete scale-space framework and which are based on
an additive operator splitting (AOS).
Chapter 5 is devoted to practical topics such as filter design, examples and ap-
plications of anisotropic diffusion filtering. Specific models are proposed which are
tailored towards smoothing with edge enhancement and multiscale enhancement
of coherent structures. Their qualities are illustrated using images arising from
computer aided quality control and medical applications, but also fingerprint im-
viii PREFACE
ages and impressionistic paintings shall be processed. The results are juxtaposed
to related methods from Chapter 1.
Finally, Chapter 6 concludes the book by giving a summary and discussing
possible future perspectives for nonlinear diffusion filtering.
Acknowledgments. In writing this book I have been helped and influenced
by many people, and it is a pleasure to take this opportunity to express my grat-
itude to them. The present book is an extended and revised version of my Ph.D.
thesis [416], which was written at the Department of Mathematics at the Uni-
versity of Kaiserslautern, Germany. Helmut Neunzert, head of the Laboratory of
Technomathematics, drew my interest to diffusion processes in image processing,
and he provided the possibility to carry out this work at his laboratory. I also
thank him and the other editors of the ECMI Series as well as Teubner Verlag for
their interest in publishing this work.
Pierre–Louis Lions (CEREMADE, University Paris IX) invited me to the CERE-
MADE, one of the birthplaces of many important ideas in this field. He also gave
me the honour to present my results as an invited speaker at the EMS Confer-
ence Multiscale Analysis in Image Processing (Lunteren, The Netherlands, October
1994) to an international audience, and he acted as a referee for the Ph.D. thesis.
After the defence of my thesis in Kaiserslautern, I joined the TGV (“tools
for geometry in vision”) group at Utrecht University Hospital for 14 months. In
this young and dynamic group I had the possibility to learn a lot about medical
image analysis, and to experience Bart ter Haar Romeny’s enthusiasm for scale-
space. During that time I also met Atsushi Imiya (Chiba University, Japan) at
a workshop in Dagstuhl (Germany). He introduced me into the fascinating world
of early Japanese scale-space research conducted by Taizo Iijima decades before
scale-space became popular in America and Europe.
In the meantime I am with the computer vision group of Peter Johansen and
Jens Arnspang (DIKU, Copenhagen University). The discussions and collabora-
tions with the members of this group increased my interest in scale-space related
deep structure analysis and information theory. In the latter field I share many
common interests with Jon Sporring.
The proofreading of this book was done by Martin Reißel and Andrea Bechtold
(Kaiserslautern). Martin Reißel undertook the hard job of checking the whole
manuscript for its mathematical correctness, and Andrea Bechtold was a great help
in all kinds of difficulties with the English language. Also Robert Maas (Utrecht
University Hospital) contributed several useful hints.
This work has been funded by Stiftung Volkswagenwerk, Stiftung Rheinland–
Pfalz f¨ ur Innovation, the Real World Computing Partnership, the Danish Research
Council, and the EU–TMR Research Network VIRGO.
Copenhagen, October 1997 Joachim Weickert
Contents
1 Image smoothing and restoration by PDEs 1
1.1 Physical background of diffusion processes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2
1.2 Linear diffusion filtering . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3
1.2.1 Relations to Gaussian smoothing . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3
1.2.2 Scale-space properties . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6
1.2.3 Numerical aspects . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10
1.2.4 Applications . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11
1.2.5 Limitations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12
1.2.6 Generalizations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13
1.3 Nonlinear diffusion filtering . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14
1.3.1 The Perona–Malik model . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15
1.3.2 Regularized nonlinear models . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 20
1.3.3 Anisotropic nonlinear models . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 22
1.3.4 Generalizations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 24
1.3.5 Numerical aspects . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 25
1.3.6 Applications . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 26
1.4 Methods of diffusion–reaction type . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 27
1.4.1 Single diffusion–reaction equations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 27
1.4.2 Coupled systems of diffusion–reaction equations . . . . . . . 29
1.5 Classic morphological processes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 31
1.5.1 Binary and grey-scale morphology . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 31
1.5.2 Basic operations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 32
1.5.3 Continuous-scale morphology . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 32
1.5.4 Theoretical results . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 34
1.5.5 Scale-space properties . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 34
1.5.6 Generalizations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 35
1.5.7 Numerical aspects . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 36
1.5.8 Applications . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 37
1.6 Curvature-based morphological processes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 37
1.6.1 Mean-curvature filtering . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 37
1.6.2 Affine invariant filtering . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 40
1.6.3 Generalizations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 42
1.6.4 Numerical aspects . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 43
ix
x CONTENTS
1.6.5 Applications . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 45
1.6.6 Active contour models . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 46
1.7 Total variation methods . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 49
1.7.1 TV-preserving methods . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 50
1.7.2 TV-minimizing methods . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 50
1.8 Conclusions and further scope of the book . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 53
2 Continuous diffusion filtering 55
2.1 Basic filter structure . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 55
2.2 The structure tensor . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 56
2.3 Theoretical results . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 57
2.4 Scale-space properties . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 62
2.4.1 Invariances . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 62
2.4.2 Information-reducing properties . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 65
3 Semidiscrete diffusion filtering 75
3.1 The general model . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 75
3.2 Theoretical results . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 76
3.3 Scale-space properties . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 81
3.4 Relation to continuous models . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 86
3.4.1 Isotropic case . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 86
3.4.2 Anisotropic case . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 88
4 Discrete diffusion filtering 97
4.1 The general model . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 97
4.2 Theoretical results . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 98
4.3 Scale-space properties . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 99
4.4 Relation to semidiscrete models . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 102
4.4.1 Semi-implicit schemes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 102
4.4.2 AOS schemes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 107
5 Examples and applications 113
5.1 Edge-enhancing diffusion . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 114
5.1.1 Filter design . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 114
5.1.2 Applications . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 114
5.2 Coherence-enhancing diffusion . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 127
5.2.1 Filter design . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 127
5.2.2 Applications . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 129
6 Conclusions and perspectives 135
Bibliography 139
Index 165
Chapter 1
Image smoothing and restoration
by PDEs
PDE-based methods appear in a large variety of image processing and computer
vision areas ranging from shape-from-shading and histogramme modification to
optic flow and stereo vision.
This chapter reviews their main application, namely the smoothing and restora-
tion of images. It is written in an informal style and refers to a large amount of
original literature, where proofs and full mathematical details can be found.
The goal is to make the reader sensitive to the similarities, differences, advan-
tages and shortcomings of these techniques, and to point out the main results and
open problems in this rapidly evolving area.
For each class of methods the basic ideas are explained and their theoretical
background, numerical aspects, generalizations, and applications are discussed.
Many of these ideas are borrowed from physical phenomena such as wave prop-
agation or transport of heat and mass. Nevertheless, also gas dynamics, crack
propagation, grassfire flow, the study of salinity profiles in oceanography, or mech-
anisms of the retina and the brain are closely related to some of these approaches.
Although a detailed discussion of these connections would be far beyond the scope
of this work, they are mentioned wherever they appear, in order to allow the
interested reader to pursue these ideas. Also many historical notes are added.
The outline of this chapter is as follows: We start with reviewing the physi-
cal ideas behind diffusion processes. This helps us to better understand the next
sections which are concerned with the properties of linear and nonlinear diffusion
filters in image processing. The subsequent study of image enhancement methods
of diffusion–reaction type relates diffusion filters to variational image restoration
techniques. After that we investigate morphological filters, a topic which looks at
first glance fairly different to the diffusion approach. Nevertheless, it reveals some
interesting relations when it is interpreted within a PDE framework. This becomes
1
2 CHAPTER 1. PARTIAL DIFFERENTIAL EQUATIONS
especially evident when considering curvature-based morphological PDEs. Finally
we shall discuss total variation image restoration techniques which permit discon-
tinuous solutions. The last section summarizes the advantages and shortcomings
of the main methods and gives an outline of the questions we are concerned with
in the subsequent chapters.
1.1 Physical background of diffusion processes
Most people have an intuitive impression of diffusion as a physical process that
equilibrates concentration differences without creating or destroying mass. This
physical observation can be easily cast in a mathematical formulation.
The equilibration property is expressed by Fick’s law:
j = −D ∇u. (1.1)
This equation states that a concentration gradient ∇u causes a flux j which aims
to compensate for this gradient. The relation between ∇u and j is described by
the diffusion tensor D, a positive definite symmetric matrix. The case where j and
∇u are parallel is called isotropic. Then we may replace the diffusion tensor by a
positive scalar-valued diffusivity g. In the general anisotropic case, j and ∇u are
not parallel.
The observation that diffusion does only transport mass without destroying it
or creating new mass is expressed by the continuity equation

t
u = −div j (1.2)
where t denotes the time.
If we plug in Fick’s law into the continuity equation we end up with the diffusion
equation

t
u = div (D ∇u). (1.3)
This equation appears in many physical transport processes. In the context of
heat transfer it is called heat equation. In image processing we may identify the
concentration with the grey value at a certain location. If the diffusion tensor is
constant over the whole image domain, one speaks of homogeneous diffusion, and
a space-dependent filtering is called inhomogeneous. Often the diffusion tensor is a
function of the differential structure of the evolving image itself. Such a feedback
leads to nonlinear diffusion filters. Diffusion which does not depend on the evolving
image is called linear.
Sometimes the computer vision literature deviates from the preceding nota-
tions: It can happen that homogeneous filtering is named isotropic, and inhomo-
geneous blurring is called anisotropic, even if it uses a scalar-valued diffusivity
instead of a diffusion tensor.
1.2 LINEAR DIFFUSION FILTERING 3
1.2 Linear diffusion filtering
The simplest and best investigated PDE method for smoothing images is to apply
a linear diffusion process. We shall focus on the relation between linear diffusion
filtering and the convolution with a Gaussian, analyse its smoothing properties for
the image as well as its derivatives, and review the fundamental properties of the
Gaussian scale-space induced by linear diffusion filtering. Afterwards a survey on
discrete aspects is given and applications and limitations of the linear diffusion
paradigm are discussed. The section is concluded by sketching two linear general-
izations which can incorporate a-priori knowledge: affine Gaussian scale-space and
directed diffusion processes.
1.2.1 Relations to Gaussian smoothing
Gaussian smoothing
Let a grey-scale image f be represented by a real-valued mapping f ∈ L
1
(IR
2
). A
widely-used way to smooth f is by calculating the convolution
(K
σ
∗f)(x) :=

IR
2
K
σ
(x−y) f(y) dy (1.4)
where K
σ
denotes the two-dimensional Gaussian of width (standard deviation)
σ>0 :
K
σ
(x) :=
1
2πσ
2
exp


[x[
2

2

. (1.5)
There are several reasons for the excellent smoothing properties of this method:
First we observe that since K
σ
∈ C

(IR
2
) we get K
σ
∗f ∈ C

(IR
2
), even if f is
only absolutely integrable.
Next, let us investigate the behaviour in the frequency domain. When defining
the Fourier transformation T by
(Tf)(ω) :=

IR
2
f(x) exp(−i'ω, x`) dx (1.6)
we obtain by the convolution theorem that
(T(K
σ
∗f)) (ω) = (TK
σ
)(ω) (Tf)(ω). (1.7)
Since the Fourier transform of a Gaussian is again Gaussian-shaped,
(TK
σ
)(ω) = exp


[ω[
2
2/σ
2

, (1.8)
4 CHAPTER 1. PARTIAL DIFFERENTIAL EQUATIONS
we observe that (1.4) is a low-pass filter that attenuates high frequencies in a
monotone way.
Interestingly, the smoothing behaviour can also be understood in the context
of a PDE interpretation.
Equivalence to linear diffusion filtering
It is a classical result (cf. e.g. [331, pp. 267–271] and [185, pp. 43–56]) that for any
bounded f ∈C(IR
2
) the linear diffusion process

t
u = ∆u, (1.9)
u(x, 0) = f(x) (1.10)
possesses the solution
u(x, t) =

f(x) (t = 0)
(K

2t
∗ f)(x) (t > 0).
(1.11)
This solution is unique, provided we restrict ourselves to functions satisfying
[u(x, t)[ ≤ M exp (a[x[
2
) (M, a > 0). (1.12)
It depends continuously on the initial image f with respect to | . |
L

(IR
2
)
, and it
fulfils the maximum–minimum principle
inf
IR
2
f ≤ u(x, t) ≤ sup
IR
2
f on IR
2
[0, ∞). (1.13)
From (1.11) we observe that the time t is related to the spatial width σ =

2t of
the Gaussian. Hence, smoothing structures of order σ requires to stop the diffusion
process at time
T =
1
2
σ
2
. (1.14)
Figure 5.2 (b) and 5.3 (c) in Chapter 5 illustrate the effect of linear diffusion
filtering.
Gaussian derivatives
In order to understand the structure of an image we have to analyse grey value
fluctuations within a neighbourhood of each image point, that is to say, we need
information about its derivatives. However, differentiation is ill-posed
1
, as small
perturbations in the original image can lead to arbitrarily large fluctuations in
the derivatives. Hence, the need for regularization methods arises. A thorough
1
A problem is called well-posed, if it has a unique solution which depends continuously on
the input data and parameters. If one of these conditions is violated, it is called ill-posed.
1.2 LINEAR DIFFUSION FILTERING 5
treatment of this mathematical theory can be found in the books of Tikhonov and
Arsenin [402], Louis [266] and Engl et al. [128].
One possibility to regularize is to convolve the image with a Gaussian prior to
differentiation [404]. By the equality

n
x
1

m
x
2
(K
σ
∗f) = K
σ
∗ (∂
n
x
1

m
x
2
f) = (∂
n
x
1

m
x
2
K
σ
) ∗ f (1.15)
for sufficiently smooth f, we observe that all derivatives undergo the same Gaussian
smoothing process as the image itself and this process is equivalent to convolving
the image with derivatives of a Gaussian.
Replacing derivatives by these Gaussian derivatives has a strong regularizing
effect. This property has been used to stabilize ill-posed problems like deblurring
images by solving the heat equation backwards in time
2
[141, 177]. Moreover, Gaus-
sian derivatives can be combined to so-called differential invariants, expressions
that are invariant under transformations such as rotations, for instance [∇K
σ
∗u[
or ∆K
σ
∗u.
Differential invariants are useful for the detection of features such as edges,
ridges, junctions, and blobs; see [256] for an overview. To illustrate this, we focus
on two applications for detecting edges.
A frequently used method is the Canny edge detector [69]. It is based on calcu-
lating the first derivatives of the Gaussian-smoothed image. After applying sophis-
ticated thinning and linking mechanisms (non-maxima suppression and hysteresis
thresholding), edges are identified as locations where the gradient magnitude has a
maximum. This method is often acknowledged to be the best linear edge detector,
and it has become a standard in edge detection.
Another important edge detector is the Marr–Hildreth operator [278], which
uses the Laplacian-of-Gaussian (LoG) ∆K
σ
as convolution kernel. Edges of f are
identified as zero-crossings of ∆K
σ
∗f. This needs no further postprocessing and
always gives closed contours. There are indications that LoGs and especially their
approximation by differences-of-Gaussians (DoGs) play an important role in the
visual system of mammals, see [278] and the references therein. Young developed
this theory further by presenting evidence that the receptive fields in primate eyes
are shaped like the sum of a Gaussian and its Laplacian [449], and Koenderink
and van Doorn suggested the set of Gaussian derivatives as a general model for
the visual system [242].
If one investigates the temporal evolution of the zero-crossings of an image fil-
tered by linear diffusion, one observes an interesting phenomenon: When increasing
the smoothing scale σ, no new zero-crossings are created which cannot be traced
back to finer scales [439]. This evolution property is called causality [240]. It is
2
Of course, solutions of the regularization can only approximate the solution of the original
problem (if it exists). In practice, increasing the order of applied Gaussian derivatives or reducing
the kernel size will finally deteriorate the results of deblurring.
6 CHAPTER 1. PARTIAL DIFFERENTIAL EQUATIONS
closely connected to the maximum–minimum principle of certain parabolic opera-
tors [189]. Attempts to reconstruct the original image from the temporal evolution
of the zero-crossings of the Laplacian have been carried out by Hummel and Mo-
niot [190]. They concluded, however, that this is practically unstable unless very
much additional information is provided.
In the western world the evolution property of the zero-crossings was the key
investigation which has inspired Witkin to the so-called scale-space concept [439].
This shall be discussed next.
1.2.2 Scale-space properties
The general scale-space concept
It is a well-known fact that images usually contain structures at a large variety of
scales. In those cases where it is not clear in advance which is the right scale for the
depicted information it is desirable to have an image representation at multiple
scales. Moreover, by comparing the structures at different scales, one obtains a
hierarchy of image structures which eases a subsequent image interpretation.
A scale-space is an image representation at a continuum of scales, embedding
the image f into a family ¦T
t
f[t ≥ 0¦ of gradually simplified versions of it, provided
that it fulfils certain requirements
3
. Most of these properties can be classified as
architectural, smoothing (information-reducing) or invariance requirements [12].
An important architectural assumption is recursivity, i.e. for t = 0, the scale-
space representation gives the original image f, and the filtering may be split into
a sequence of filter banks:
T
0
f = f, (1.16)
T
t+s
f = T
t
(T
s
f) ∀ s, t ≥ 0. (1.17)
This property is very often referred to as the semigroup property. Other architec-
tural principles comprise for instance regularity properties of T
t
and local behaviour
as t tends to 0.
Smoothing properties and information reduction arise from the wish that the
transformation should not create artifacts when passing from fine to coarse rep-
resentation. Thus, at a coarse scale, we should not have additional structures
which are caused by the filtering method itself and not by underlying structures
at finer scales. This simplification property is specified by numerous authors in
different ways, using concepts such as no creation of new level curves (causality)
[240, 450, 189, 255], nonenhancement of local extrema [30, 257], decreasing number
3
Recently it has also been proposed to extend the scale-space concept to scale–imprecision
space by taking into account the imprecision of the measurement device [171].
1.2 LINEAR DIFFUSION FILTERING 7
of local extrema [255], maximum loss of figure impression [196], Tikhonov regular-
ization [302, 303], maximum–minimum principle [189, 328], positivity [324, 138],
preservation of positivity [191, 193, 320], comparison principle [12], and Lyapunov
functionals [415, 429]. Especially in the linear setting, many of these properties are
equivalent or closely related; see [426] for more details.
We may regard an image as a representative of an equivalence class containing
all images that depict the same object. Two images of this class differ e.g. by grey-
level shifts, translations and rotations or even more complicated transformations
such as affine mappings. This makes the requirement plausible that the scale-space
analysis should be invariant to as many of these transformations as possible, in
order to analyse only the depicted object [196, 16].
The pioneering work of Alvarez, Guichard, Lions and Morel [12] shows that
every scale-space fulfilling some fairly natural architectural, information-reducing
and invariance axioms is governed by a PDE with the original image as initial
condition. Thus, PDEs are the suitable framework for scale-spaces.
Often these requirements are supplemented with an additional assumption
which is equivalent to the superposition principle, namely linearity:
T
t
(af +bg) = a T
t
f +b T
t
g ∀ t ≥ 0, ∀ a, b ∈ IR. (1.18)
As we shall see below, imposing linearity restricts the scale-space idea to essentially
one representative.
Gaussian scale-space
The historically first and best investigated scale-space is the Gaussian scale-space,
which is obtained via convolution with Gaussians of increasing variance, or – equiv-
alently – by linear diffusion filtering according to (1.9), (1.10).
Usually a 1983 paper by Witkin [439] or a 1980 report by Stansfield [392]
are regarded as the first references to the linear scale-space idea. Recent work
by Weickert, Ishikawa and Imiya [426, 427], however, shows that scale-space is
more than 20 years older: An axiomatic derivation of 1-D Gaussian scale-space
has already been presented by Taizo Iijima in a technical paper from 1959 [191]
followed by a journal version in 1962 [192]. Both papers are written in Japanese.
In [192] Iijima considers an observation transformation Φ which depends on
a scale parameter σ and which transforms the original image f(x) into a blurred
version
4
Φ[f(x

), x, σ]. This class of blurring transformations is called boke (defo-
cusing). He assumes that it has the structure
Φ[f(x

), x, σ] =

−∞
φ¦f(x

), x, x

, σ¦ dx

, (1.19)
4
The variable x

serves as a dummy variable.
8 CHAPTER 1. PARTIAL DIFFERENTIAL EQUATIONS
and that it should satisfy five conditions:
(I) Linearity (with respect to multiplications):
If the intensity of a pattern becomes A times its original intensity, then the
same should happen to the observed pattern:
Φ[Af(x

), x, σ] = AΦ[f(x

), x, σ]. (1.20)
(II) Translation invariance:
Filtering a translated image is the same as translating the filtered image:
Φ[f(x

−a), x, σ] = Φ[f(x

), x−a, σ]. (1.21)
(III) Scale invariance:
If a pattern is spatially enlarged by some factor λ, then there exists a σ

=
σ

(σ, λ) such that
Φ[f(x

/λ), x, σ] = Φ[f(x

), x/λ, σ

]. (1.22)
(IV) (Generalized) semigroup property:
If f is observed under a parameter σ
1
and this observation is observed un-
der a parameter σ
2
, then this is equivalent to observing f under a suitable
parameter σ
3
= σ
3

1
, σ
2
):
Φ

Φ[f(x
′′
), x

, σ
1
], x, σ
2

= Φ[f(x
′′
), x, σ
3
]. (1.23)
(V) Preservation of positivity:
If the original image is positive, then the observed image is positive as well:
Φ[f(x

), x, σ] > 0 ∀ f(x

) > 0, ∀ σ > 0. (1.24)
Under these requirements Iijima derives in a very systematic way that
Φ[f(x

), x, σ] =
1
2

πσ

−∞
f(x

) exp

−(x −x

)
2

2

dx

. (1.25)
Thus, Φ[f(x

), x, σ] is just the convolution between f and a Gaussian with standard
deviation σ

2.
This has been the starting point of an entire world of linear scale-space research
in Japan, which is basically unknown in the western world. Japanese scale-space
theory was well-embedded in a general framework for pattern recognition, feature
extraction and object classification [195, 197, 200, 320], and many results have
1.2 LINEAR DIFFUSION FILTERING 9
been established earlier than in the western world. Apart from their historical
merits, these Japanese results reveal many interesting qualities which should induce
everyone who is interested in scale-space theory to have a closer look at them. More
details can be found in [426, 427] as well as in some English scale-space papers
by Iijima such as [195, 197]. In particular, the latter ones show that there is no
justification to deny Iijima’s pioneering role in linear scale-space theory because of
language reasons.
Table 1.1: Overview of continuous Gaussian scale-space axiomatics (I1 = Iijima
[191, 192], I2 = Iijima [193, 194], I3 = Iijima [196], O = Otsu [320], K = Koenderink
[240], Y = Yuille/Poggio [450], B = Babaud et al. [30], L1 = Lindeberg [255], F1 =
Florack et al. [140], A = Alvarez et al. [12], P = Pauwels et al. [324], N = Nielsen
et al. [303], L2 = Lindeberg [257], F2 = Florack [138]).
I1 I2 I3 O K Y B L1 F1 A P N L2 F2
convolution kernel • • • • • • • • • • •
semigroup property • • • • • • • • •
locality •
regularity • • • • • • • •
infinetes. generator •
max. loss principle •
causality • • • • •
nonnegativity • • • • • •
Tikhonov regulariz. •
aver. grey level invar. • • • • • •
flat kernel for t →∞ • •
isometry invariance • • • • • • • • • • •
homogen. & isotropy •
separability • •
scale invariance • • • • • • • •
valid for dimension 1 2 2 2 1,2 1,2 1 1 > 1 N 1,2 N N N
Table 1.1 presents an overview of the current Japanese and western Gaussian
scale-space axiomatics (see [426, 427] for detailed explanations). All of these ax-
iomatics use explicitly or implicitly
5
a linearity assumption. We observe that –
despite the fact that many axiomatics reveal similar first principles – not two of
them are identical. Each of the 14 axiomatics confirms and enhances the evidence
that the others give: that Gaussian scale-space is unique within a linear framework.
A detailed treatment of Gaussian scale-space theory can be found in two
Japanese monographs by Iijima [197, 198], as well as in English books by Lin-
deberg [256], Florack [139], and ter Haar Romeny [176]. A collection edited by
5
Often it is assumed that the filter is a convolution integral. This is equivalent to linearity
and translation invariance.
10 CHAPTER 1. PARTIAL DIFFERENTIAL EQUATIONS
Sporring, Nielsen, Florack and Johansen [389] gives an excellent overview of the
various aspects of this theory, and additional material is presented in [211]. Many
relations between Gaussian scale-space and regularization theory have been elab-
orated by Nielsen [302], and readers who wish to analyse linear and nonlinear
scale-space concepts in terms of differential and integral geometry can find a lot
of material in the thesis of Salden [351].
1.2.3 Numerical aspects
The preceding theory is entirely continuous. However, in practical problems, the
image is sampled at the nodes (pixels) of a fixed equidistant grid. Thus, the diffu-
sion filter has to be discretized.
By virtue of the equivalence of solving the linear diffusion equation and con-
volving with a Gaussian, we can either approximate the convolution process or the
diffusion equation.
When restricting the image to a finite domain and applying the Fast Fourier
Transformation (FFT), convolution in the spatial domain can be reduced to mul-
tiplication in the frequency domain, cf. (1.7). This proceeding requires a fixed
computational effort of order N log N, which depends only on the pixel number
N, but not on the kernel size σ. For large kernels this is faster than most spatial
techniques. Especially for small kernels, however, aliasing effects in the Fourier
domain may create oscillations and over- and undershoots [178].
One efficient possibility to approximate Gaussian convolution in the spatial do-
main consists of applying recursive filters [109, 448]. More frequently the Gaussian
kernel is just sampled and truncated at some multiple of its standard deviation
σ. Factorizing a higher-dimensional Gaussian into one-dimensional Gaussians re-
duces the computational effort to O(Nσ). Convolution with a truncated Gaussian,
however, reveals the drawback that it does not preserve the semigroup property of
the continuous Gaussian scale-space [255].
Lindeberg [255] has established a linear scale-space theory for the semidiscrete
6
case. His results are in accordance with those of Norman [312], who proposed in
1960 that the discrete analogue of the Gaussian kernel should be given in terms of
modified Bessel functions of integer order. Since this scale-space family arises nat-
urally from a semidiscretized version of the diffusion equation, it has been argued
that approximating the diffusion equation should be preferred to discretizing the
convolution integral [255].
Recently, interesting semidiscrete and fully discrete linear scale-space formula-
tions have been established utilizing stochastic principles:
˚
Astr¨om and Heyden [27]
study a framework based on stationary random fields, while the theory by Salden
et al. [353] exploits the relations between diffusion and Markov processes.
6
By semidiscrete we mean discrete in space and continuous in time throughout this work.
1.2 LINEAR DIFFUSION FILTERING 11
Among the numerous numerical possibilities to approximate the linear diffusion
equation, finite difference (FD) schemes dominate the field. Apart from some im-
plicit approaches [166, 67, 68] allowing realizations as a recursive filter [14, 10, 451],
explicit schemes are mainly used. A very efficient approximation of the Gaus-
sian scale-space results from applying multigrid ideas. The Gaussian pyramid [64]
has the computational complexity O(N) and gives a multilevel representation at
finitely many scales of different resolution. By subsequently smoothing the image
with an explicit scheme for the diffusion equation and restricting the result to a
coarser grid, one obtains a simplified image representation at the next coarser grid.
Due to their simplicity and efficiency, pyramid decompositions have become very
popular and have been integrated into commercially available hardware [70, 214].
Pyramids are not invariant under translations, however, and sometimes it is ar-
gued that they are undersampled and that the pyramid levels should be closer
7
.
These are the reasons why some people regard pyramids rather as predecessors of
the scale-space idea than as a numerical approximation
8
.
1.2.4 Applications
Due to its equivalence to convolution with a Gaussian, linear diffusion filtering has
been applied in numerous fields of image processing and computer vision. It can
be found in almost every standard textbook in these fields.
Less frequent are applications which exploit the evolution of an image under
Gaussian scale-space. This deep structure analysis [240] provides useful information
for extracting semantic information from an image, for instance
• for finding the most relevant scales (scale selection, focus-of-attention). This
may be done by searching for extrema of (nonlinear) combinations of normal-
ized Gaussian derivatives [256] or by analysing information theoretic mea-
sures such as the entropy [208, 388] or generalized entropies [390] over scales.
• for multiscale segmentation of images [172, 254, 256, 313, 408]. The idea is
to identify segments at coarse scales and to link backwards to the original
image in order to improve the localization.
In recent years also applications of Gaussian scale-space to stereo, optic flow
and image sequences have become an active research field [139, 215, 241, 258, 259,
302, 306, 441]. Several scale-space applications are summarized in a survey paper
by ter Haar Romeny [175].
7
Of course, multiresolution techniques such as pyramids or discrete wavelet transforms [92,
106] are just designed to have few or no redundancies, while scale-space analysis intends to
extract semantical information by tracing signals through a continuum of scales.
8
Historically, this is incorrect: Iijima’s scale-space work [191] is much older than multigrid
ideas in image processing.
12 CHAPTER 1. PARTIAL DIFFERENTIAL EQUATIONS
Interesting results arise when one studies linear scale-space on a sphere [236,
353]: while the diffusion equation remains the correct concept, Gaussian kernels are
of no use anymore: appropriate kernels have to be expressed in terms of Legendre
functions [236]. This and other results [12, 255] indicate that the PDE formulation
of linear scale-space in terms of a diffusion equation is more natural and has a
larger generalization potential than convolution with Gaussians.
1.2.5 Limitations
In spite of several properties that make linear diffusion filtering unique and easy
to handle, it reveals some drawbacks as well:
(a) An obvious disadvantage of Gaussian smoothing is the fact that it does not
only smooth noise, but also blurs important features such as edges and, thus,
makes them harder to identify. Since Gaussian smoothing is designed to be
completely uncommitted, it cannot take into account any a-priori informa-
tion on structures which are worth being preserved (or even enhanced).
(b) Linear diffusion filtering dislocates edges when moving from finer to coarser
scales, see e.g. Witkin [439]. So structures which are identified at a coarse
scale do not give the right location and have to be traced back to the original
image [439, 38, 165]. In practice, relating dislocated information obtained at
different scales is difficult and bifurcations may give rise to instabilities. These
coarse-to-fine tracking difficulties are generally denoted as the correspondence
problem.
(c) Some smoothing properties of Gaussian scale-space do not carry over from
the 1-D case to higher dimensions: A closed zero-crossing contour can split
into two as the scale increases [450], and it is generally not true that the
number of local extrema is nonincreasing, see [254, 255] for illustrative coun-
terexamples. A deep mathematical analysis of such phenomena has been
carried out by Damon [105] and Rieger [342]. It turned out that the pairwise
creation of an extremum and a saddle point is not an exception, but happens
generically.
Regarding (b) and (c), much efforts have been spent in order to understand
the deep structure in Gaussian scale-space, for instance by analysing its toppoints
[210]. There is some evidence that these points, where the gradient vanishes and
the Hessian does not have full rank, carry essential image information [212]. Part
III of the book edited by Sporring et al. [389] and the references therein give an
overview of the state-of-the-art in deep structure analysis.
Due to the uniqueness of Gaussian scale-space within a linear framework we
know that any modification in order to overcome the problems (a)–(c) will either
1.2 LINEAR DIFFUSION FILTERING 13
renounce linearity or some scale-space properties. We shall see that appropriate
methods to avoid the shortcomings (a) and (b) are nonlinear diffusion processes,
while (c) requires morphological equations [206, 207, 218].
1.2.6 Generalizations
Before we turn our attention to nonlinear processes, let us first investigate two
linear modifications which have been introduced in order to address the problems
(a) and (b) from the previous section.
Affine Gaussian scale-space
A straightforward generalization of Gaussian scale-space results from renouncing
invariance under rotations. This leads to the affine Gaussian scale-space
u(x, t) :=

IR
2
1

det(D
t
)
exp


(x−y)

D
−1
t
(x−y)
4

f(y) dy (1.26)
where D
t
:= tD, t > 0, and D ∈ IR
2×2
is symmetric positive definite
9
. For a fixed
matrix D, calculating the convolution integral (1.26) is equivalent to solving a
linear anisotropic diffusion problem with D as diffusion tensor:

t
u = div (D ∇u), (1.27)
u(x, 0) = f(x). (1.28)
In [427] it is shown that affine Gaussian scale-space has been axiomatically derived
by Iijima in 1962 [193, 194]. He named u(x, t) the generalized figure of f, and (1.27)
the basic equation of figure [196]. In 1971 this concept was realized in hardware in
the optical character reader ASPET/71 [199, 200]. The scale-space part has been
regarded as the reason for its reliability and robustness.
In 1992 Nitzberg and Shiota [310] proposed to adapt the Gaussian kernel shape
to the structure of the original image. By chosing D in (1.26) as a function of the
structure tensor (cf. Section 2.2) of f, they combined nonlinear shape adaptation
with linear smoothing. Later on similar ideas have been developed in [259, 443].
It should be noted that shape-adapted Gaussian smoothing with a spatially
varying D is no longer equivalent to a diffusion process of type (1.27). In practice
this can be experienced by the fact that shape-adaptation of Gaussian smoothing
does not preserve the average grey level, while the divergence formulation ensures
that this is still possible for nonuniform diffusion filtering; see Section 1.1. Also in
this case the diffusion equation seems to be more general. If one wants to relate
9
Isotropic Gaussian scale-space can be recovered using the unit matrix for D.
14 CHAPTER 1. PARTIAL DIFFERENTIAL EQUATIONS
shape-adapted Gaussian smoothing to a PDE, one has to carry out sophisticated
scaling limits [310].
Noniterative shape-adapted Gaussian smoothing differs from nonlinear aniso-
tropic diffusion filtering by the fact that the latter one introduces a feedback into
the process: it adapts the diffusion tensor in (1.27) to the differential structure of
the filtered image instead of the original image. Such concepts will be investigated
in Section 1.3.3 and in the remaining chapters of this book.
Directed diffusion
Another method for incorporating a-priori knowledge into a linear diffusion process
is suggested by Illner and Neunzert [202]. Provided we are given some background
information in form of a smooth image b, they show that under some technical
requirements and suitable boundary conditions the classical solution u of

t
u = b ∆u −u ∆b, (1.29)
u(x, 0) = f(x) (1.30)
converges to b along a path where the relative entropy with respect to b increases in
a monotone way. Numerical experiments have been carried out by Giuliani [159],
and an analysis in terms of nonsmooth b and weak solutions is due to Illner and
Tie [203].
Such a directed diffusion process requires to specify an entire image as back-
ground information in advance; in many applications it would be desirable to
include a priori knowledge in a less specific way, e.g. by prescribing that features
within a certain contrast and scale range are considered to be semantically impor-
tant and processed differently. Such demands can be satisfied by nonlinear diffusion
filters.
1.3 Nonlinear diffusion filtering
Adaptive smoothing methods are based on the idea of applying a process which
itself depends on local properties of the image. Although this concept is well-
known in the image processing community (see [349] and the references therein
for an overview), a corresponding PDE formulation was first given by Perona and
Malik [326] in 1987. We shall discuss this model in detail, especially its ill-posedness
aspects. This gives rise to study regularizations. These techniques can be extended
to anisotropic processes which make use of an adapted diffusion tensor instead of
a scalar diffusivity.
1.3 NONLINEAR DIFFUSION FILTERING 15
1.3.1 The Perona–Malik model
Basic idea
Perona and Malik propose a nonlinear diffusion method for avoiding the blurring
and localization problems of linear diffusion filtering [326, 328]. They apply an
inhomogeneous process that reduces the diffusivity at those locations which have
a larger likelihood to be edges. This likelihood is measured by [∇u[
2
. The Perona–
Malik filter is based on the equation

t
u = div (g([∇u[
2
) ∇u). (1.31)
and it uses diffusivities such as
g(s
2
) =
1
1 +s
2

2
(λ > 0). (1.32)
Although Perona and Malik name their filter anisotropic, it should be noted that
– in our terminology – it would be regarded as an isotropic model, since it utilizes
a scalar-valued diffusivity and not a diffusion tensor.
Interestingly, there exists a relation between (1.31) and the neural dynamics of
brightness perception: In 1984 Cohen and Grossberg [94] proposed a model of the
primary visual cortex with similar inhibition effects as in the Perona–Malik model.
The experiments of Perona and Malik were visually very impressive: edges
remained stable over a very long time. It was demonstrated [328] that edge de-
tection based on this process clearly outperforms the linear Canny edge detector,
even without applying non-maxima suppression and hysteresis thresholding. This
is due to the fact that diffusion and edge detection interact in one single process
instead of being treated as two independent processes which are to be applied
subsequently. Moreover, there is another reason for the impressive behaviour at
edges, which we shall discuss next.
Edge enhancement
To study the behaviour of the Perona–Malik filter at edges, let us for a moment
restrict ourselves to the one-dimensional case. This simplifies the notation and
illustrates the main behaviour since near a straight edge a two-dimensional image
approximates a function of one variable.
For the diffusivity (1.32) it follows that the flux function Φ(s) := sg(s
2
) satisfies
Φ

(s) ≥ 0 for [s[ ≤ λ, and Φ

(s) < 0 for [s[ > λ, see Figure 1.1. Since (1.31) can
be rewritten as

t
u = Φ

(u
x
)u
xx
, (1.33)
we observe that – in spite of its nonnegative diffusivity – the Perona–Malik model
is of forward parabolic type for [u
x
[ ≤λ, and of backward parabolic type for [u
x
[ >λ.
16 CHAPTER 1. PARTIAL DIFFERENTIAL EQUATIONS
0
1
0 lambda
diffusivity
0
0.6
0 lambda
flux function
Figure 1.1: (a) Left: Diffusivity g(s
2
)=
1
1+s
2

2
. (b) Right: Flux function
Φ(s)=
s
1+s
2

2
.
Hence, λ plays the role of a contrast parameter separating forward (low contrast)
from backward (high contrast) diffusion areas.
It is not hard to verify that the Perona–Malik filter increases the slope at
inflection points of edges within a backward area: If there exists a sufficiently
smooth solution u it satisfies

t
(u
2
x
) = 2u
x

x
(u
t
) = 2Φ
′′
(u
x
)u
x
u
2
xx
+ 2Φ

(u
x
)u
x
u
xxx
. (1.34)
A location x
0
where u
2
x
is maximal at some time t is characterized by u
x
u
xx
=0
and u
x
u
xxx
≤0. Therefore,
(∂
t
(u
2
x
)) (x
0
, t) ≥ 0 for [u
x
(x
0
, t)[ > λ (1.35)
with strict inequality for u
x
u
xxx
<0.
In the two-dimensional case, (1.33) is replaced by [12]

t
u = Φ

(∇u)u
ηη
+g([∇u[
2
)u
ξξ
(1.36)
where the gauge coordinates ξ and η denote the directions perpendicular and paral-
lel to ∇u, respectively. Hence, we have forward diffusion along isophotes (i.e. lines
of constant grey value) combined with forward–backward diffusion along flowlines
(lines of maximal grey value variation).
We observe that the forward–backward diffusion behaviour is not only restricted
to the special diffusivity (1.32), it appears for all diffusivities g(s
2
) whose rapid
decay causes non-monotone flux functions Φ(s) = sg(s
2
). Overviews of several
common diffusivities for the Perona–Malik model can be found in [43, 343], and
a family of diffusivities with different decay rates is investigated in [36]. Rapidly
decreasing diffusivities are explicitly intended in the Perona–Malik method as they
1.3 NONLINEAR DIFFUSION FILTERING 17
give the desirable result of blurring small fluctuations and sharpening edges. There-
fore, they are the main reason for the visually impressive results of this restoration
technique.
It is evident that the “optimal” value for the contrast parameter λ has to depend
on the problem. Several proposals have been made to facilitate such a choice in
practice, for instance adapting it to a specified quantile in the cumulative gradient
histogramme [328], using statistical properties of a training set of regions which
are considered as flat [444], or estimating it by means of the local image geometry
[270].
Ill-posedness
Unfortunately, forward–backward equations of Perona–Malik type cause some the-
oretical problems. Although there is no general theory for nonlinear parabolic
processes, there exist certain frameworks which allow to establish well-posedness
results for a large class of equations. Let us recall three examples:
• Let S(N) denote the set of symmetric N N matrices and Hess(u) the
Hessian of u. Classical differential inequality techniques [411] based on the
Nagumo–Westphal lemma require that the underlying nonlinear evolution
equation

t
u = F(t, x, u, ∇u, Hess(u)) (1.37)
satisfies the monotony property
F(t, x, r, p, Y ) ≥ F(t, x, r, p, X) (1.38)
for all X, Y ∈S(2) where Y −X is positive semidefinite.
• The same requirement is needed for applying the theory of viscosity solutions.
A detailed introduction into this framework can be found in a paper by
Crandall, Ishii and Lions [103].
• Let H be a Hilbert space with scalar product (., .) and A : H →H . In order
to apply the concept of maximal monotone operators [57] to the problem
du
dt
+Au = 0, (1.39)
u(0) = f (1.40)
one has to ensure that A is monotone, i.e.
(Au−Av, u−v) ≥ 0 ∀ u, v ∈ H. (1.41)
18 CHAPTER 1. PARTIAL DIFFERENTIAL EQUATIONS
We observe that the nonmonotone flux function of the Perona–Malik process im-
plies that neither (1.38) is satisfied nor A defined by Au := −div (g([∇u[
2
) ∇u)
is monotone. Therefore, none of these frameworks is applicable to ensure well-
posedness results.
One reason why people became pessimistic about the well-posedness of the
Perona–Malik equation was a result by H¨ollig [187]. He constructed a forward–
backward diffusion process which can have infinitely many solutions. Although this
process was different from the Perona–Malik process, one was warned what can
happen. In 1994 the general conjecture was that the Perona–Malik filter might have
weak solutions, but one should neither expect uniqueness nor stability [329]. In the
meantime several theoretical results are available which provide some insights into
the actual degree of ill-posedness of the Perona–Malik filter.
Kawohl and Kutev [222] proved that the Perona–Malik process does not have
global (weak) C
1
solutions for intial data that involve backward diffusion. The exis-
tence of local C
1
solutions remained unproven. If they exist, however, Kawohl and
Kutev showed that these solutions are unique and satisfy a maximum-minimum
principle. Moreover, under special assumptions on the initial data, it was possible
to establish a comparison principle.
Kichenassamy [224, 225] proposed a notion of generalized solutions, which are
piecewise linear and contain jumps, and he showed that an analysis of their moving
and merging gives similar effects to those one can observe in practice.
Results of You et al. [446] give evidence that the Perona–Malik process is
unstable with respect to perturbations of the initial image. They showed that the
energy functional leading to the Perona–Malik process as steepest descent method
has an infinite number of global minima which are dense in the image space. Each
of these minima corresponds to a piecewise constant image, and slightly different
initial images may end up in different minima for t →∞.
Interestingly, forward–backward diffusion equations of Perona–Malik type are
not as unnatural as they look at first glance: besides their importance in computer
vision they have been proposed as a mathematical model for heat and mass transfer
in a stably stratified turbulent shear flow. Such a model is used to explain the
evolution of stepwise constant temperature or salinity profiles in the ocean. Related
equations also play a role in population dynamics and viscoelasiticity, see [35] and
the references therein.
Numerically, the mainly observable instability is the so-called staircasing effect,
where a sigmoid edge evolves into piecewise linear segments which are separated
by jumps. It has already been observed by Posmentier in 1977 [333]. He used an
equation of Perona–Malik type for numerical simulations of the salinity profiles
in oceans. Starting from a smoothly increasing initial distribution he reported the
creation of perturbations which led to a stepwise constant profile after some time.
1.3 NONLINEAR DIFFUSION FILTERING 19
In image processing, numerical studies of the staircasing effect have been carried
out by Nitzberg and Shiota [310], Fr¨ohlich and Weickert [148], and Benhamouda
[36]. All results point in the same direction: the number of created plateaus de-
pends strongly on the regularizing effect of the discretization. Finer discretizations
are less regularizing and lead to more “stairs”. Weickert and Benhamouda [425]
showed that the regularizing effect of a standard finite difference discretization is
sufficient to turn the Perona–Malik filter into a well-posed initial value problem
for a nonlinear system of ordinary differential equations. Its global solution satis-
fies a maximum–minimum principle and converges to a constant steady-state. The
theoretical framework for this analysis will be presented in Chapter 3.
There exists also a discrete explanation why staircasing is essentially the only
observable instability: In 1-D, standard FD discretizations are monotonicity pre-
serving, which guarantees that no additional oscillations occur during the evolu-
tion. This has been shown by Dzu Magaziewa [123] in the semidiscrete case and
by Benhamouda [36, 425] in the fully discrete case with an explicit time discretiza-
tion. Further contributions to the explanation and avoidance of staircasing can be
found in [4, 36, 98, 225, 438].
Scale-space interpretation
Perona and Malik renounced the assumption of Koenderink’s linear scale-space
axiomatic [240] that the smoothing should treat all spatial points and scale levels
equally. Instead of this, they required that region boundaries should be sharp and
should coincide with the semantically meaningful boundaries at each resolution
level (immediate localization), and that intra-region smoothing should be preferred
to inter-region smoothing (piecewise smoothing). These properties are of significant
practical interest, as they guarantee that structures can be detected easily and
correspondence problems can be neglected. Experiments demonstrated that the
Perona–Malik filter satisfies these requirements fairly well [328].
In order to establish a smoothing scale-space property for this nonlinear dif-
fusion process, a natural way would be to prove a maximum–minimum principle,
provided one knows that there exists a sufficiently smooth solution. Since the ex-
istence question used to be the bottleneck in the past, the first proof is due to
Kawohl and Kutev who established an extremum principle for their local weak C
1
solution to the Perona–Malik filter [222]. Of course, this is only partly satisfying,
since in scale-space theory one is interested in having an extremum principle for
the entire time interval [0, ∞).
Nevertheless, also other attempts to apply scale-space frameworks to the Perona–
Malik process have not been more successful yet:
• Salden [350], Florack [143] and Eberly [124] proposed to carry over the linear
scale-space theory to the nonlinear case by considering nonlinear diffusion
20 CHAPTER 1. PARTIAL DIFFERENTIAL EQUATIONS
processes which result from special rescalings of the linear one. Unfortunately,
the Perona–Malik filter turned out not to belong to this class [143].
• Alvarez, Guichard, Lions and Morel [12] have developed a nonlinear scale-
space axiomatic which comprises the linear scale-space theory as well as
nonlinear morphological processes (which we will discuss in 1.5 and 1.6).
Their smoothing axiom is a monotony assumption (comparison principle)
requiring that the scale-space is order-preserving:
f ≤ g =⇒ T
t
f ≤ T
t
g ∀ t ≥ 0. (1.42)
This property is closely related to a maximum–minimum principle and to
L

-stability of the solution [12, 261]. However, the Perona–Malik model
does not fit into this framework, because its local weak solution satisfies a
comparison principle only for some finite time, but not for all t > 0; see [222].
1.3.2 Regularized nonlinear models
It has already been mentioned that numerical schemes may provide implicit reg-
ularizations which stabilize the Perona–Malik process [425]. Hence, it has been
suggested to introduce the regularization directly into the continuous equation in
order to become more independent of the numerical implementation [81, 310].
Since the dynamics of the solution may critically depend on the sort of regu-
larization, one should adjust the regularization to the desired goal of the forward–
backward heat equation [35]. One can apply spatial or temporal regularization
(and of course, a combination of both). Below we shall discuss three examples
which illustrate the variety of possibilities and their tailoring towards a specific
task.
(a) The first spatial regularization attempt is probably due to Posmentier who
observed numerically the stabilizing effect of averaging the gradient within
the diffusivity [333].
A mathematically sound formulation of this idea is given by Catt´e, Lions,
Morel and Coll [81]. By replacing the diffusivity g([∇u[
2
) of the Perona–
Malik model by a Gaussian-smoothed version g([∇u
σ
[
2
) with u
σ
:= K
σ
∗u
they end up with

t
u = div (g([∇u
σ
[
2
) ∇u). (1.43)
In [81] existence, uniqueness and regularity of a solution for σ> 0have been
established.
This process has been analysed and modified in many ways: Whitaker and
Pizer [438] have suggested that the regularization parameter σ should be
1.3 NONLINEAR DIFFUSION FILTERING 21
a decreasing function in t, and Li and Chen [252] have proposed to subse-
quently decrease the contrast parameter λ. A detailed study of the influence
of the parameters in a regularized Perona–Malik model has been carried out
by Benhamouda [36]. Kaˇcur and Mikula [217] have investigated a modifica-
tion which allows to diffuse differently in different grey value ranges. Spatial
regularizations of the Perona–Malik process leading to anisotropic diffusion
equations have been proposed by Weickert [413, 415] and will be described
in 1.3.3. Torkamani–Azar and Tait [403] suggest to replace the Gaussian
convolution by the exponential filter of Shen and Castan
10
[381].
In Chapter 2 we shall see that spatial regularizations lead to well-posed scale-
spaces with a large class of Lyapunov functionals which guarantee that the
solution converges to a constant steady-state.
From a practical point of view, spatial regularizations offer the advantage
that they make the filter insensitive to noise at scales smaller than σ. There-
fore, when regarding (1.43) as an image restoration equation, it exhibits
besides the contrast parameter λ an additional noise scale σ. This avoids a
shortcoming of the genuine Perona–Malik process which misinterprets strong
oscillations due to noise as edges which should be preserved or even enhanced.
Examples for spatially regularized nonlinear diffusion filtering can be found
in Figure 5.2 (c) and 5.4 (a),(b).
(b) P.-L. Lions proved in a private communication to Mumford that the one-
dimensional process

t
u = ∂
x
(g(v) ∂
x
u), (1.44)

t
v =
1
τ
([∂
x
u[
2
−v) (1.45)
leads to a well-posed filter (cf. [329]). We observe that v is intended as a
time-delay regularization of [∂
x
u[
2
where the parameter τ > 0 determines
the delay. These equations arise as a special case of the spatio-temporal
regularizations of Nitzberg and Shiota [310] when neglecting any spatial reg-
ularization. Mumford conjectures that this model gives piecewise constant
steady-states. In this case, the steady-state solution would solve a segmen-
tation problem.
(c) In the context of shear flows, Barenblatt et al. [35] regularized the one-
dimensional forward–backward heat equation by considering the third-order
equation

t
u = ∂
x
(Φ(u
x
)) +τ∂
xt
(Ψ(u
x
)) (1.46)
10
This renounces invariance under rotation.
22 CHAPTER 1. PARTIAL DIFFERENTIAL EQUATIONS
where Ψ is strictly increasing and uniformly bounded in IR, and [Φ

(s)[ =
O(Ψ

(s)) as s → ±∞. This regularization was physically motivated by in-
troducing a relaxation time τ into the diffusivity.
For the corresponding initial boundary value problem with homogeneous
Neumann boundary conditions they proved the existence of a unique gen-
eralized solution. They also showed that smooth solutions may become dis-
continuous within finite time, before they finally converge to a piecewise
constant steady-state.
These examples demonstrate that regularization is much more than stabilizing
an ill-posed process: Regularization is modeling. Appropriately chosen regulariza-
tions create the desired filter features. We observe that spatial regularizations are
closer to scale-space ideas while temporal regularization are more related to image
restoration and segmentation, since they may lead to nontrivial steady-states.
1.3.3 Anisotropic nonlinear models
All nonlinear diffusion filters that we have investigated so far utilize a scalar-valued
diffusivity g which is adapted to the underlying image structure. Therefore, they
are isotropic and the flux j = −g∇u is always parallel to ∇u. Nevertheless, in
certain applications it would be desirable to bias the flux towards the orientation
of interesting features. These requirements cannot be satisfied by a scalar diffu-
sivity anymore, a diffusion tensor leading to anisotropic diffusion filters has to be
introduced.
First anisotropic ideas in image processing date back to Graham [167] in 1962,
followed by Newman and Dirilten [300], Lev, Zucker and Rosenfeld [250], and
Nagao and Matsuyama [297]. They used convolution masks that depended on
the underlying image structure. Related statistical approaches were proposed by
Knutsson, Wilson and Granlund [237]. These ideas have been further developed
by Nitzberg and Shiota [310], Lindeberg and G˚arding [259], and Yang et al. [443].
Their suggestion to use shape-adapted Gaussian masks has been discussed in Sec-
tion 1.2.6.
Anisotropic diffusion filters usually apply spatial regularization strategies
11
. A
general theoretical framework for spatially regularized anisotropic diffusion filters
will be presented in the remaining chapters of this book.
Below we study two representatives of anisotropic diffusion processes. The first
one offers advantages at noisy edges, whereas the second one is well-adapted to the
processing of one-dimensional features. They are called edge-enhancing anisotropic
diffusion and coherence-enhancing anisotropic diffusion, respectively.
11
An exception is the time-delay regularization of Cottet and El-Ayyadi [100, 101].
1.3 NONLINEAR DIFFUSION FILTERING 23
(a) Anisotropic regularization of the Perona–Malik process
In the interior of a segment the nonlinear isotropic diffusion equation (1.43)
behaves almost like the linear diffusion filter (1.9), but at edges diffusion
is inhibited. Therefore, noise at edges cannot be eliminated successfully by
this process. To overcome this problem, a desirable method should prefer
diffusion along edges to diffusion perpendicular to them.
Anisotropic models do not only take into account the modulus of the edge
detector ∇u
σ
, but also its direction. To this end, we construct the orthonor-
mal system of eigenvectors v
1
, v
2
of the diffusion tensor D such that they
reflect the estimated edge structure:
v
1
| ∇u
σ
, v
2
⊥ ∇u
σ
. (1.47)
In order to prefer smoothing along the edge to smoothing across it, Weickert
[415] proposed to choose the corresponding eigenvalues λ
1
and λ
2
as
λ
1
(∇u
σ
) := g([∇u
σ
[
2
), (1.48)
λ
2
(∇u
σ
) := 1. (1.49)
Section 5.1 presents several examples where this process is applied to test
images.
In general, ∇u does not coincide with one of the eigenvectors of D as long
as σ>0. Hence, this model behaves really anisotropic. If we let the regular-
ization parameter σ tend to 0, we end up with the isotropic Perona–Malik
process.
Another anisotropic model which can be regarded as a regularization of an
isotropic nonlinear diffusion filter has been described in [413].
(b) Anisotropic models for smoothing one-dimensional objects
A second motivation for introducing anisotropy into diffusion processes arises
from the wish to process one-dimensional features such as line-like structures.
To this end, Cottet and Germain [102] constructed a diffusion tensor with
eigenvectors as in (1.47) and corresponding eigenvalues
λ
1
(∇u
σ
) := 0, (1.50)
λ
2
(∇u
σ
) :=
η[∇u
σ
[
2
1 + ([∇u
σ
[/σ)
2
(η > 0). (1.51)
This is a process diffusing solely perpendicular to ∇u
σ
. For σ → 0, we
observe that ∇u becomes an eigenvector of D with corresponding eigenvalue
0. Therefore, the process stops completely. In this sense, it is not intended as
an anisotropic regularization of the Perona–Malik equation. Well-posedness
24 CHAPTER 1. PARTIAL DIFFERENTIAL EQUATIONS
results for the Cottet–Germain filter comprise an existence proof for weak
solutions.
Since the Cottet–Germain model diffuses only in one direction, it is clear
that its result depends very much on the smoothing direction. For enhancing
parallel line-like structures, one can improve this model when replacing ∇u

σ
by a more robust descriptor of local orientation, the structure tensor (cf.
Section 2.2). This leads to coherence-enhancing anisotropic diffusion [418],
which shall be discussed in Section 5.2, where also many examples can be
found.
1.3.4 Generalizations
Higher dimensions. It is easily seen that many of the previous results can
be generalized to higher dimensions. This may be useful when considering e.g.
medical image sequences from computerized tomography (CT) or magnetic reso-
nance imaging (MRI), or when applying diffusion filters to the postprocessing of
fluctuating higher-dimensional numerical data. The first three-dimensional non-
linear diffusion filters have been investigated by Gerig et al. [155] in the isotropic
case and by Rambaux and Gar¸con [339] in the anisotropic case. A generalization
of coherence-enhancing anisotropic diffusion to higher dimensions is proposed in
[428], and S´anchez–Ortiz et al. [355] describe nonlinear diffusion filtering of 3-D
image sequences by treating them as 4-D data sets.
More sophisticated structure descriptors. The edge detector ∇u
σ
en-
ables us to adapt the diffusion to magnitude and direction of edges, but it can
neither distinguish between edges and corners nor does it give a reliable measure
of local orientation. As a remedy, one can steer the smoothing process by more
advanced structure descriptors such as higher-order derivatives [127] or tensor-
valued expressions of first-order derivatives [414, 418]. The theoretical analysis in
the present work shall comprise the second possibility. It has also been proposed
to replace ∇u
σ
by a Bayesian classification result in feature space [26].
Vector-valued models. Vector-valued images can arise either from devices
measuring multiple physical properties or from a feature analysis of one single
image. Examples for the first category are colour images, multi-spectral Landsat
exposures and multi-spin echo MR images, whereas representatives of the second
class are given by statistical moments or the jet space induced by the image itself
and its partial derivatives up to a given order. Feature vectors play an important
role for tasks like texture segmentation.
1.3 NONLINEAR DIFFUSION FILTERING 25
The simplest idea how to apply diffusion filtering to multichannel images would
be to diffuse all channels separately and independently from each other. This leads
to the undesirable effect that edges may be formed at different locations for each
channel. In order to avoid this, one should use a common diffusivity which combines
information from all channels. Such isotropic vector-valued diffusion models were
studied by Gerig et al. [155, 156] and Whitaker [433, 434] in the context of medical
imagery. Extensions to anisotropic vector-valued models with a common tensor-
valued structure descriptor for all channels have been investigated by Weickert
[422].
1.3.5 Numerical aspects
For nonlinear diffusion filtering numerous numerical methods have been applied:
Finite element techniques are described in [367, 391, 34, 216]. B¨ansch and
Mikula reported a significant speed-up by supplementing them with an adaptive
mesh coarsening [34]. Neural network approximations to nonlinear diffusion filters
are investigated by Cottet [100, 99] and Fischl and Schwartz [137]. Perona and
Malik [327] propose hardware realizations by means of analogue VLSI networks
with nonlinear resistors. A very detailed VLSI proposal has been developed by
Gijbels et al. [158].
In [148] three schemes for a spatially regularized 1-D Perona–Malik filter are
compared: a wavelet method of Petrov–Galerkin type, a pseudospectral method
and a finite-difference scheme. It turned out that all results became fairly similar,
when the regularization parameter σ was sufficiently large. Since the computational
effort is of a comparable order of magnitude, it seems to be a matter of taste which
scheme is preferred.
Most implementations of nonlinear diffusion filters are based on finite differ-
ence methods, since they are easy to handle and the pixel structure of digital
images already provides a natural discretization on a fixed rectangular grid. Ex-
plicit schemes are the most simple to code and, therefore, they are used almost
exclusively. Due to their local behaviour, they are well-suited for parallel architec-
tures. Nevertheless, they suffer from the fact that fairly small time step sizes are
needed in order to ensure stability. Semi-implicit schemes – which approximate the
diffusivity or the diffusion tensor in an explicit way and the rest implicitly – are
considered in [81]. They possess much better stability properties. A fast multigrid
technique using a pyramid algorithm for the Perona–Malik filter has been studied
by Acton et al. [5, 4]; see also [349] for related ideas.
While the preceding techniques are focusing on approximating a continuous
equation, it is often desirable to have a genuinely discrete theory which guarantees
that an algorithm exactly reveals the same qualitative properties as its continuous
counterpart. Such a framework is presented in [420, 421], both for the semidiscrete
26 CHAPTER 1. PARTIAL DIFFERENTIAL EQUATIONS
Table 1.2: Requirements for continuous, semidiscrete and fully dis-
crete nonlinear diffusion scale-space.
requirement continuous semidiscrete discrete
u
t
= div (D∇u)
du
dt
= A(u)u u
0
= f
u(t = 0) = f u(0) = f u
k+1
= Q(u
k
)u
k
'D∇u, n` = 0
smoothness D ∈ C

A Lipschitz- Q continuous
continuous
symmetry D symmetric A symmetric Q symmetric
conservation div form; column sums column sums
reflective b.c. are 0 are 1
nonnega- positive nonnegative nonnegative
tivity semidefinite off-diagonals elements
connectivity uniformly pos. irreducible irreducible;
definite pos. diagonal
and for the fully discrete case. A detailed treatment of this theory can be found
in Chapter 3 and 4, respectively. Table 1.2 gives an overview of the requirements
which are needed in order to prove well-posedness, average grey value invariance,
causality in terms of an extremum principle and Lyapunov functionals, and con-
vergence to a constant steady-state [423].
We observe that the requirements belong to five categories: smoothness, sym-
metry, conservation, nonnegativity and connectivity requirements. These criteria
are easy to check for many discretizations. In particular, it turns out that suitable
explicit and semi-implicit finite difference discretizations of many discussed models
create discrete scale-spaces. The discrete nonlinear scale-space concept has also led
to the development of fast novel schemes, which are based on an additive operator
splitting (AOS) [424, 430]. Under typical accuracy requirements, they are about
10 times more efficient than the widely used explicit schemes, and a speed-up by
another order of magnitude can be achieved by a parallel implementation [431]. A
general framework for AOS schemes will be presented in Section 4.4.2.
1.3.6 Applications
Nonlinear diffusion filters have been applied for postprocessing fluctuating data
[269, 415], for visualizing quality-relevant features in computer aided quality con-
trol [299, 413, 418], and for enhancing textures such as fingerprints [418]. They have
proved to be useful for improving subsampling [144] and line detection [156, 418],
for blind image restoration [445], for scale-space based segmentation algorithms
1.4 METHODS OF DIFFUSION–REACTION TYPE 27
[307, 308], for segmentation of textures [433, 437] and remotely sensed data [6, 5],
and for target tracking in infrared images [65]. Most applications, however, are
concerned with the filtering of medical images [26, 28, 29, 155, 244, 248, 264, 270,
308, 321, 355, 386, 393, 431, 434, 437, 444]. Some of these applications will be
investigated in more detail in Chapter 5.
Besides such specific problem solutions, nonlinear diffusion filters can be found
in commercial software packages such as the medical visualization tool Analyze.
12
1.4 Methods of diffusion–reaction type
This section investigates variational frameworks, in which diffusion–reaction equa-
tions or coupled systems of them are interpreted as steepest descent minimizers of
suitable energy functionals. This idea connects diffusion methods to edge detection
and segmentation ideas.
Besides the variational interpretation there exist other interesting theoretical
frameworks for diffusion filters such as the Markov random field and mean field
annealing context [152, 153, 247, 251, 328, 387], robust statistics [41], and deter-
ministic interactive particle models [279]. Their discussion, however, would lead us
beyond the scope of this book.
1.4.1 Single diffusion–reaction equations
Nordstr¨om [311] has suggested to obtain a reconstruction u of a degraded image
f by minimizing the energy functional
E
f
(u, w) :=

β(u−f)
2
+ w[∇u[
2
+ λ
2
(w−lnw)

dx. (1.52)
The parameters β and λ are positive weights and w : Ω →[0, 1] gives a fuzzy edge
representation: in the interior of a region, w approaches 1 while at edges, w is close
to 0 (as we shall see below).
The first summand of E punishes deviations of u from f (deviation cost), the
second term detects unsmoothness of u within each region (stabilizing cost), and
the last one measures the extend of edges (edge cost). Cost terms of these three
types are typical for variational image restoration methods.
The corresponding Euler equations to this energy functional are given by
0 = β(u−f) − div (w∇u), (1.53)
0 = λ
2
(1−
1
w
) + [∇u[
2
, (1.54)
12
Analyze is a registered trademark of Mayo Medical Ventures, 200 First Street SW, Rochester,
MN 55905, U.S.A.
28 CHAPTER 1. PARTIAL DIFFERENTIAL EQUATIONS
equipped with a homogeneous Neumann boundary condition for u.
Solving (1.54) for w gives
w =
1
1 +[∇u[
2

2
. (1.55)
We recognize that w is identical with the Perona–Malik diffusivity g([∇u[
2
) in-
troduced in (1.32). Therefore, (1.53) can be regarded as the steady-state equation
of

t
u = div (g([∇u[
2
) ∇u) + β(f −u). (1.56)
This equation can also be obtained directly as the descent method of the functional
F
f
(u) :=

β(u−f)
2
+ λ
2
ln

1+
|∇u|
2
λ
2

dx. (1.57)
The diffusion–reaction equation (1.56) consists of the Perona–Malik process
with an additional bias term β(f −u). One of Nordstr¨om’s motivations for intro-
ducing this term was to free the user from the difficulty of specifying an appropriate
stopping time for the Perona–Malik process.
However, it is evident that the Nordstr¨om model just shifts the problem of
specifying a stopping time T to the problem of determining β. So it seems to
be a matter of taste which formulation is preferred. People interested in image
restoration usually prefer the reaction term, while for scale-space researchers it is
more natural to have a constant steady-state as the simplest image representation.
Nordstr¨om’s method may suffer from the same ill-posedness problems as the
underlying Perona–Malik equation, and it is not hard to verify that the energy
functional (1.57) is nonconvex. Therefore, it can possess numerous local minima,
and the process (1.56) with f as initial condition does not necessarily converge to
a global minimum. Similar difficulties may also arise in other diffusion–reaction
models, where convergence results have not yet been established [152, 186].
A popular possibility to avoid these ill-posedness and convergence problems is
to renounce edge-enhancing diffusivities in order to end up with (nonquadratic)
convex functionals [43, 88, 110, 367, 391]. In this case the frameworks of convex
optimization and monotone operators are applicable, ensuring well-posedness and
stability of a standard finite-element approximation [367].
Diffusion–reaction approaches have been applied to edge detection [367, 391],
to the restoration of inverse scattering images [263], to SPECT [88] and vascular
reconstruction in medical imaging [102, 325], and to optic flow [368, 111] and
stereo problems [343]. They can be extended to vector-valued images [369] and
to corner-preserving smoothing of curves [136, 323]. Diffusion–reaction methods
with constant diffusivities have also been used for local contrast normalization in
images [330].
1.4 METHODS OF DIFFUSION–REACTION TYPE 29
1.4.2 Coupled systems of diffusion–reaction equations
Mumford and Shah [295, 296] have proposed to obtain a segmented image u from
f by minimizing the functional
E
f
(u, K) = β


(u−f)
2
dx +

Ω\K
[∇u[
2
dx + α[K[ (1.58)
with nonnegative parameters α and β. The discontinuity set K consists of the
edges, and its one-dimensional Hausdorff measure [K[ gives the total edge length.
Like the Nordstr¨om functional (1.52), this expression consists of three cost terms:
the first one is the deviation cost, the second one gives the stabilizing cost, and
the third one represents the edge cost.
The Mumford–Shah functional can be regarded as a continuous version of the
Markov random field method of Geman and Geman [154] and the weak membrane
model of Blake and Zisserman [42]. Related approaches are also used to model
materials with two phases and a free interface.
The fact that (1.58) leads to a free discontinuity problem causes many challeng-
ing theoretical questions [249]. The book of Morel and Solimini [292] covers a very
detailed analysis of this functional. Although the existence of a global minimizer
with a closed edge set K has been established [108, 17], uniqueness is in general
not true [292, pp. 197–198]. Regularity results for K in terms of (at least) C
1
-arcs
have recently been obtained [18, 19, 20, 48, 49, 107].
The concept of energy functionals for segmenting images offers the practical
advantage that it provides a framework for comparing the quality of two seg-
mentations. On the other hand, (1.58) exhibits also some shortcomings, e.g. the
problem that sigmoid-like edges produce multiple segmentation boundaries (over-
segmentation, staircasing effect) [377]. Another drawback results from the fact that
the Mumford–Shah functional allows only singularities which are typical for mini-
mal surfaces: Corners or T-junctions are not possible and segments meet at triple
points with 120
o
angle [296]. In order to avoid such problems, modifications of the
Mumford–Shah functional have been proposed by Shah [379]. An affine invariant
generalization of (1.58) is investigated in [32, 31] and applied to affine invariant
texture segmentation [31, 33], and a Mumford–Shah functional for curves can be
found in [323].
Since many algorithms in image processing can be restated as versions of the
Mumford–Shah functional [292] and since it is a prototype of a free discontinuity
problem it is instructive to study this variational problem in more detail.
Numerical complications arise from the fact that the Mumford–Shah functional
has numerous local minima. Global minimizers such as the simulated annealing
method used by Geman and Geman [154] are extremely slow. Hence, one searches
for fast (suboptimal) deterministic strategies, e.g. pyramidal region-growing algo-
rithms [3, 239].
30 CHAPTER 1. PARTIAL DIFFERENTIAL EQUATIONS
Another important class of numerical methods is based on the idea to approx-
imate the discontinuity set K by a smooth function w, which is close to 0 near
edges of u and which approximates 1 elsewhere.
We may for instance study the functional
F
f
(u, w) :=

β(u−f)
2
+ w
2
[∇u[
2
+ α

c[∇w[
2
+
(1−w)
2
4c

dx (1.59)
with a positive parameter c specifying the “edge width”. Ambrosio and Tortorelli
proved that this functional converges to the Mumford–Shah functional for c → 0
(in the sense of Γ-convergence, see [22] for more details).
Minimizing F
f
corresponds to the gradient descent equations

t
u = div (w
2
∇u) + β(f −u), (1.60)

t
w = c∆w −
w
α
[∇u[
2
+
(1−w)
4c
(1.61)
with homogeneous Neumann boundary conditions. Equations of this type are in-
vestigated by Richardson and Mitter [341]. Since (1.60) resembles the Nordstr¨om
process (1.56), similar problems can arise: The functional F
f
is not jointly convex
in u and v, so it may have many local minima and a gradient descent algorithm
may get trapped in a poor local minimum. Well-posedness results for this system
have not been obtained up to now, but a maximum–minimum principle and a local
stability proof have been established.
Another diffusion–reaction system is studied by Shah [375, 376]. He replaces
the functional (1.58) by two coupled convex energy functionals and applies gradi-
ent descent. This results in finding an equilibrium state between two competing
processes. Experiments indicate that it converges to a stable solution. Proesmans
et al. [337, 336] observed that this solution looks fairly blurred since the equations
contain diffusion terms such as ∆u. They obtained pronounced edges by replacing
such a term by its Perona–Malik counterpart div (g([∇u[
2
) ∇u). Related equations
are also studied in [398]. Of course, this approach gives rise to the same theoretical
questions as (1.60), (1.61).
The system of Richardson and Mitter is used for edge detection [341]. Shah in-
vestigates diffusion–reaction systems for matching stereo images [378], while Proes-
mans et al. apply coupled diffusion-reaction equations to image sequence analysis,
vector-valued images and stereo vision [336, 338]. Their finite difference algorithms
run on a parallel transputer network.
It should also be mentioned that there exist reaction–diffusion systems which
have been applied to image restoration [334, 335, 382], texture generation [406, 440]
and halftoning [382], and which are not connected to Perona–Malik or Mumford–
Shah ideas. They are based on Turing’s pattern formation model [405].
1.5 CLASSIC MORPHOLOGICAL PROCESSES 31
1.5 Classic morphological processes
Morphology is an approach to image analysis based on shapes. Its mathematical
formalization goes back to the group around Matheron and Serra, both working
at ENS des Mines de Paris in Fontainebleau. The theory had first been developed
for binary images, afterwards it was extended to grey-scale images by regarding
level sets as shapes. Its applications cover biology, medical diagnostics, histology,
quality control, radar and remote sensing, science of material, mineralogy, and
many others.
Morphology is usually described in terms of algebraic set theory, see e.g. [280,
371, 181, 184] for an overview. Nevertheless, PDE formulations for classic morpho-
logical processes have been discovered recently by Brockett and Maragos [60], van
den Boomgaard [50], Arehart et al. [25] and Alvarez et al. [12].
This section surveys the basic ideas and elementary operations of binary and
grey-scale morphology, presents its PDE representations for images and curves,
and summarizes the results concerning well-posedness and scale-space properties.
Afterwards numerical aspects of the PDE formulation of these processes are dis-
cussed, and generalizations are sketched which comprise the morphological equiv-
alent of Gaussian scale-space.
1.5.1 Binary and grey-scale morphology
Binary morphology considers shapes (silhouettes), i.e. closed sets X⊂IR
2
whose
boundaries are Jordan curves [16]. Henceforth, we identify a shape X with its
characteristic function
χ(x) :=

1 if x∈X,
0 else.
(1.62)
Binary morphological operations affect only the boundary curve of the shape and,
therefore, they can be viewed as curve or shape deformations.
Grey-scale morphology generalizes these ideas [274] by decomposing an image
f into its level sets ¦X
a
f, a∈IR¦, where
X
a
f := ¦x ∈ IR
2
, f(x) ≥ a¦. (1.63)
A binary morphological operation A can be extended to some grey-scale image f
by defining
X
a
(Af) := A(X
a
f) ∀ a ∈ IR. (1.64)
We observe that for this type of morphological operations only grey-level sets
matter. As a consequence, they are invariant under monotone grey-level rescalings.
This morphological invariance (grey-scale invariance) is characteristic for all meth-
ods we shall study in Section 1.5 and 1.6, except for 1.5.6 and some modifications
32 CHAPTER 1. PARTIAL DIFFERENTIAL EQUATIONS
in 1.6.5. It is a very desirable property in all cases where brightness changes of the
illumination occur or where one wants to be independent of the specific contrast
range of the camera. On the other hand, for applications like edge detection or
image restoration, contrast provides important information which should be taken
into account. Moreover, in some cases isolines may give inadequate information
about the depicted physical object boundaries.
1.5.2 Basic operations
Classic morphology analyses a shape by matching it with a so-called structuring
element, a bounded set B⊂IR
2
. Typical shapes for B are discs, squares, or ellipses.
The two basic morphological operations, dilation and erosion with a structuring
element B, are defined for a grey-scale image f ∈L

(IR
2
) by [60]
dilation: (f ⊕B) (x) := sup ¦f(x−y), y ∈B¦, (1.65)
erosion: (f ⊖B) (x) := inf ¦f(x+y), y ∈B¦. (1.66)
These names can be easily motivated when considering a shape in a binary image
and a disc-shaped structuring element. In this case dilation blows up its boundaries,
while erosion shrinks them.
Dilation and erosion form the basis for constructing other morphological pro-
cesses, for instance opening and closing:
opening: (f ◦ B) (x) := ((f ⊖B) ⊕B) (x), (1.67)
closing: (f • B) (x) := ((f ⊕B) ⊖B) (x). (1.68)
In the preceding shape interpretation opening smoothes the shape by breaking nar-
row isthmuses and eliminating small islands, while closing smoothes by eliminating
small holes, fusing narrow breaks and filling gaps at the contours [181].
1.5.3 Continuous-scale morphology
Let us consider a convex structuring element tB with a scaling parameter t >0.
Then, calculating u(t) = f ⊕tB and u(t) = f ⊖tB, respectively
13
, can be shown
to be equivalent to solving

t
u(x, t) = sup
y∈B
'y, ∇u(x, t)`, (1.69)

t
u(x, t) = inf
y∈B
'y, ∇u(x, t)`. (1.70)
with f as initial condition [12, 360].
13
Henceforth, we frequently use the simplified notation u(t) instead of u(., t)
1.5 CLASSIC MORPHOLOGICAL PROCESSES 33
By choosing e.g. B := ¦y ∈ IR
2
, [y[ ≤ 1¦ one obtains

t
u = [∇u[, (1.71)

t
u = −[∇u[. (1.72)
The solution u(t) is the dilation (resp. erosion) of f with a disc of radius t and
centre 0 as structuring element. Figure 5.5 (a) presents the temporal evolution of
a test image under such a continuous-scale dilation.
Connection to curve evolution
Morphological PDEs such as (1.71) or (1.72) are closely related to shape and
curve evolutions. This can be illustrated by considering a smooth Jordan curve
C : [0, 2π] [0, ∞) →IR
2
,
C(p, t) =

x
1
(p, t)
x
2
(p, t)

(1.73)
where p is the parametrization and t is the evolution parameter. We assume that
C evolves in outer normal direction n with speed β, which may be a function of
its curvature κ :=
det(Cp,Cpp)
|Cp|
3
:

t
C = β(κ) n, (1.74)
C(p, 0) = C
0
(p). (1.75)
One can embed the curve C(p, t) in an image u(x, t) in such a way that C is just
a level curve of u. The corresponding evolution for u is given by [319, 362, 16]

t
u = β(curv(u)) [∇u[. (1.76)
where the curvature of u is
curv(u) := div

∇u
[∇u[

. (1.77)
Sometimes the image evolution (1.76) is called the Eulerian formulation of the
curve evolution (1.74), because it is written in terms of a fixed coordinate system.
We observe that (1.71) and (1.72) correspond to the simple cases β = ±1.
Hence, they describe the curve evolutions

t
C = ±n. (1.78)
This equation moves level sets in normal direction with constant speed. Such a
process is also named grassfire flow or prairie flow. It is closely related to the
Huygens principle for wave propagation [25]. Its importance for shape analysis
in biological vision has already been pointed out in the sixties by Blum [47]. He
simulated grassfire flow by a self-constructed opticomechanical device.
34 CHAPTER 1. PARTIAL DIFFERENTIAL EQUATIONS
1.5.4 Theoretical results
Equations such as (1.78) may develop singularities and intersections even for
smooth initial data. Hence, concepts of jump conditions, entropy solutions, and
shocks have to be applied to this shape evolution [228].
A suitable framework for the image evolution equation (1.76) is provided by
the theory of viscosity solutions [103]. The advantage of this analysis is that it
allows us to treat shapes with singularities such as corners, where the classical
solution concept does not apply, but a unique weak solution in the viscosity sense
still exists.
It can be shown [90, 129, 103], that for an initial value
f ∈ BUC(IR
2
) := ¦ϕ∈L

(IR
2
) [ ϕ is uniformly continuous on IR
2
¦ (1.79)
the equations (1.69),(1.70) possess a unique global viscosity solution u(x, t) which
fulfils the maximum–minimum principle
inf
IR
2
f ≤ u(x, t) ≤ sup
IR
2
f on IR
2
[0, ∞). (1.80)
Moreover, it is L

-stable: for two different initial images f, g the corresponding
solutions u(t), v(t) satisfy
|u(t)−v(t)|
L

(IR
2
)
≤ |f −g|
L

(IR
2
)
. (1.81)
1.5.5 Scale-space properties
Brockett and Maragos [60] pointed out that the convexity of B is sufficient to
ensure the semigroup property of the corresponding dilations and erosions. This
establishes an important architectural scale-space property.
Similar results have been found by van den Boomgaard and Smeulders [53].
Moreover, they conjecture a causality property where singularities play a role sim-
ilar to zero-crossings in Gaussian scale-space.
Jackway and Deriche [206, 207] prove a causality theorem for the dilation–
erosion scale-space, which is also based on local extrema instead of zero-crossings.
They establish that under erosion the number of local minima is decreasing, while
dilation reduces the number of local maxima. The location of these extrema is
preserved during their whole lifetime.
A complete scale-space interpretation is due to Alvarez, Guichard, Lions and
Morel [12]: They prove that under three architectural assumptions (semigroup
property, locality and regularity), one smoothing axiom (comparison principle) and
additional invariance requirements (grey-level shift invariance, invariance under ro-
tations and translations, morphological invariance), a two-dimensional scale-space
1.5 CLASSIC MORPHOLOGICAL PROCESSES 35
equation has the following form:

t
u = [∇u[ F(t, curv(u)) (1.82)
Clearly, dilation and erosion belong to the class (1.82), thus being good candi-
dates for morphological scale-spaces. Indeed, in [12] it is shown that the converse
is true as well: all axioms that lead to (1.82) are fulfilled.
14
1.5.6 Generalizations
It is possible to extend morphology with a structuring element to morphology with
nonflat structuring functions. In this case we have to renounce invariance under
monotone grey level transformations, but we gain an interesting insight into a
process which has very much in common with Gaussian scale-space.
A dilation of an image f with a structuring function b : IR
2
→IR is defined as
(f ⊕b) (x) := sup
y∈IR
2
¦f(x−y) +b(y)¦. (1.83)
This is a generalization of definition (1.65), since one can recover dilation with a
structuring element B by considering the flat structuring function
b(x) :=

0 (x∈B),
−∞ (x∈B).
(1.84)
Van den Boomgaard [50, 51] and Jackway [206] proposed to dilate an image f(x)
with quadratic structuring functions of type
b(x, t) = −
[x[
2
4t
(t > 0). (1.85)
It can be shown [50, 53] that the result u(x, t) is a weak solution of

t
u = [∇u[
2
, (1.86)
u(x, 0) = f(x). (1.87)
The temporal evolution of a test image under this process is illustrated in Figure
5.5 (b).
In analogy to the fact that Gaussian-type functions k(x, t) = a exp(
|x|
2
4t
) are the
only rotationally symmetric kernels which are separable with respect to convolu-
tion, van den Boomgaard proves that the quadratic structuring functions b(x, t)
are the only rotationally invariant structuring functions which are separable with
respect to dilation [50, 51].
14
Invariance under rotations is only satisfied for a disc centered in 0 as structuring element.
36 CHAPTER 1. PARTIAL DIFFERENTIAL EQUATIONS
A useful tool for understanding this similarity and many other analogies be-
tween morphology and linear systems theory is the slope transform. This general-
ization of the Legendre transform is the morphological equivalent of the Fourier
transform. It has been discovered simultaneously by Dorst and van den Boomgaard
[119] and by Maragos [275] in slightly differing formulations.
The close relation between (1.86) and Gaussian scale-space has also triggered
Florack and Maas [142] to study a one-parameter family of isomorphisms of linear
diffusion which reveals (1.86) as limiting case.
1.5.7 Numerical aspects
Dilations or erosions with quadratic structuring functions are separable and, thus,
they can be implemented very efficiently by applying one-dimensional operations.
A fast algorithm is described by van den Boomgaard [51].
For morphological operations with flat structuring elements, the situation is
more complicated. Schemes for dilation or erosion which are based on curve evo-
lution turn out be be difficult to handle: they require prohibitive small time steps,
and suffer from the problem of coping with singularities and topological changes
[319, 25, 360].
For this reason it is useful to discretize the corresponding image evolution equa-
tions. The widely-used Osher–Sethian schemes [319] are based on the idea to derive
numerical methods for such equations from techniques for hyperbolic conservation
laws. Overviews of these level set approaches and their various applications can be
found in [372, 374].
To illustrate the basic idea with a simple example, let us restrict ourselves to the
one-dimensional dilation equation ∂
t
u=[∂
x
u[. A first-order upwind Osher–Sethian
scheme for this process is given by
u
n+1
i
−u
n
i
τ
=

min

u
n
i
−u
n
i−1
h
, 0

2
+

max

u
n
i+1
−u
n
i
h
, 0

2
, (1.88)
where h is the pixel size, τ is the time step size, and u
n
i
denotes a discrete
approximation of u(ih, nτ).
Level set methods possess two advantages over classical set-theoretic schemes
for dilation/erosion [25, 360, 218, 66]:
(a) They give excellent results for non-digitally scalable structuring elements
whose shapes cannot be represented correctly on a discrete grid, for instance
discs or ellipses.
(b) The time t plays the role of a continuous scale parameter. Therefore, the
size of a structuring element need not be multiples of the pixel size, and it
is possible to get results with sub-pixel accuracy.
1.6 CURVATURE-BASED MORPHOLOGICAL PROCESSES 37
However, they reveal also two disadvantages:
(a) They are slower than set-theoretic morphological schemes.
(b) Dissipative effects such as blurring of discontinuities occur.
To address the first problem, speed-up techniques for shape evolution have been
proposed which use only points close to the curve at every time step [8, 435,
373]. Blurring of discontinuities can be minimized by applying shock-capturing
techniques such as high-order ENO
15
schemes [395, 385].
1.5.8 Applications
Continuous-scale morphology has been applied to shape-from-shading problems,
gridless image halftoning, distance transformations, and skeletonization. Applica-
tions outside the field of image processing and computer vision include for instance
shape offsets in CAD and path planning in robotics. Overviews and suitable ref-
erences can be found in [233, 276].
1.6 Curvature-based morphological processes
Besides providing a useful reinterpretation of classic continuous-scale morphology,
the PDE approach has led to the discovery of new morphological operators. These
processes are curvature-based, and – although they cannot be written in conserva-
tion form – they reveal interesting relations to diffusion processes. Two important
representatives of this class are mean curvature motion and its affine invariant
counterpart. In this subsection we shall discuss these PDEs, possible generaliza-
tions, numerical aspects, and applications.
1.6.1 Mean-curvature filtering
In order to motivate our first curvature-based morphological PDE, let us recall
that the linear diffusion equation (1.9) can be rewritten as

t
u = ∂
ηη
u +∂
ξξ
u, (1.89)
where the unit vectors η and ξ are parallel and perpendicular to ∇u, respectively.
The first term on the right-hand side of (1.89) describes smoothing along the
flowlines, while the second one smoothes along isophotes. When we want to smooth
15
ENO means essentially non-oscillatory. By adapting the stencil for derivative approximations
to the local smoothness of the solution, ENO schemes obtain both high-order accuracy in smooth
regions and sharp shock transitions [183].
38 CHAPTER 1. PARTIAL DIFFERENTIAL EQUATIONS
the image anisotropically along its isophotes, we can neglect the first term and end
up with the problem

t
u = ∂
ξξ
u, (1.90)
u(x, 0) = f(x). (1.91)
By straightforward calculations one verifies that (1.90) can also be written as

t
u =
u
2
x
2
u
x
1
x
1
−2u
x
1
u
x
2
u
x
1
x
2
+u
2
x
1
u
x
2
x
2
u
2
x
1
+u
2
x
2
(1.92)
= ∆u −
1
[∇u[
2
'∇u, Hess(u)∇u` (1.93)
= [∇u[ curv(u). (1.94)
Since curv(u)=div

∇u
|∇u|

is the curvature of u (mean curvature for dimensions ≥
3), equation (1.94) is named (mean) curvature motion (MCM). The corresponding
curve evolution

t
C(p, t) = κ(p, t) n(p, t) (1.95)
shows that (1.90) propagates isophotes in inner normal direction with a velocity
that is given by their curvature κ=
det(Cp,Cpp)
|Cp|
3
.
Processes of this type have first been studied by Brakke in 1978 [54]. They
arise in flame propagation, crystal growth, the derivation of minimal surfaces, grid
generation, and many other applications; see [372, 374] and the references therein
for an overview. The importance of MCM in image processing became only recently
clear: As nicely explained in a paper by Guichard and Morel [173], mean curvature
motion can be regarded as the limit process when classic morphological operators
such as median filtering are iteratively applied.
Figure 5.5 (c) and 5.11 (a) present examples for mean curvature filtering. Equa-
tion (1.95) is also called geometric heat equation or Euclidean shortening flow. The
subsequent discussions shall clarify these names.
Intrinsic heat flow
Interestingly, there exists a further connection between linear diffusion and motion
by curvature. Let v(p, t) denote the Euclidean arc-length of C(p, t), i.e.
v(p, t) :=
p

0
[C
ρ
(ρ, t)[ dρ, (1.96)
where C
ρ
:= ∂
ρ
C. The Euclidean arc-length is characterized by [C
v
[ = 1. It is
invariant under Euclidean transformations, i.e. mappings
x → Rx +b (1.97)
1.6 CURVATURE-BASED MORPHOLOGICAL PROCESSES 39
where R∈IR
2×2
denotes a rotation matrix and b ∈IR
2
is a translation vector.
Since it is well-known from differential geometry (see e.g. [71], p. 14) that
κ(p, t) n(p, t) = ∂
vv
C(p, t), (1.98)
we recognize that curvature motion can be regarded as Euclidean invariant diffu-
sion of isophotes:

t
C(p, t) = ∂
vv
C(p, t). (1.99)
This geometric heat equation is intrinsic, since it is independent of the curve para-
metrization. However, the reader should be aware of the fact that – although this
equation looks like a linear one-dimensional heat equation – it is in fact nonlinear,
since the arc-length v is again a function of the curve.
Theoretical results
For the evolution of a smooth curve under its curvature, it has been shown in
[188, 151, 169] that a smooth solution exists for some finite time interval [0, T).
A convex curve remains convex, a nonconvex one becomes convex and, for t →T,
the curve shrinks to a circular point, i.e. a point with a circle as limiting shape.
Moreover, since under all flows C
t
=C
qq
the Euclidean arc-length parametrization
q(p):=v(p) is the fastest way to shrink the Euclidean perimeter

[C
p
[ dp, equation
(1.99) is called Euclidean shortening flow [150]. The time for shrinking a circle of
radius σ to a point is given by
T =
1
2
σ
2
. (1.100)
In analogy to the dilation/erosion case it can be shown that, for an initial image
f ∈BUC(IR
2
), equation (1.90) has a unique viscosity solution which is L

-stable
and satisfies a maximum–minimum principle [12].
Scale-space interpretation
A shape scale-space interpretation for curve evolution under Euclidean heat flow is
studied by Kimia and Siddiqi [227]. It is based on results of Evans and Spruck [129].
They establish the semigroup property as architectural quality, and smoothing
properties follow from the fact that the total curvature decreases. Moreover, the
number of extrema and inflection points of the curvature is nonincreasing.
As an image evolution, MCM belongs to the class of morphological scale-spaces
which satisfy the general axioms of Alvarez, Guichard, Lions and Morel [12], that
have been mentioned in 1.5.5.
When studying the evolution of isophotes under MCM, it can be shown that,
if one isophote is enclosed by another, this ordering is preserved [129, 227]. Such a
shape inclusion principle implies in connection with (1.100) that it takes the time
T =
1
2
σ
2
to remove all isophotes within a circle of radius σ. This shows that the
40 CHAPTER 1. PARTIAL DIFFERENTIAL EQUATIONS
relation between temporal and spatial scale for MCM is the same as for linear
diffusion filtering (cf. (1.14)).
Moreover, two level sets cannot move closer to one another than they were
initially [129, 227]. Hence, contrast cannot be enhanced. This property is charac-
teristic for all scale-spaces of the Alvarez–Guichard–Lions–Morel axiomatic and
distinguishes them from nonlinear diffusion filters.
1.6.2 Affine invariant filtering
Motivation
Although Euclidean invariant smoothing methods are sufficient in many applica-
tions, there exist certain problems which also require invariance with respect to
affine transformations. A (full) affine transformation is a mapping
x → Ax +b (1.101)
where b ∈ IR
2
denotes a translation vector and the matrix A ∈ IR
2×2
is invertible.
Affine transformations arise as shape distortions of planar objects when being
observed from a large distance under different angles.
Affine invariant intrinsic diffusion
In analogy to the Euclidean invariant heat flow, Sapiro and Tannenbaum [362,
363] constructed an affine invariant flow by replacing the Euclidean arc-length
v(p, t) in (1.99) by an “arc-length” s(p, t) that is invariant with respect to affine
transformations with det(A) = 1.
Such an affine arc-length was proposed by Blaschke [44, pp. 12–15] in 1923. It
is characterized by det(C
s
, C
ss
)=1, and it can be calculated as
s(p, t) :=
p

0

det

C
ρ
(ρ, t), C
ρρ
(ρ, t)
1
3
dρ. (1.102)
By virtue of

ss
C(p, t) =

κ(p, t)
1
3
n(p, t) (1.103)
we obtain the affine invariant heat flow

t
C(p, t) =

κ(p, t)
1
3
n(p, t), (1.104)
C(p, 0) = C
0
(p). (1.105)
1.6 CURVATURE-BASED MORPHOLOGICAL PROCESSES 41
Affine invariant image evolution
When regarding the curve C(p, t) as a level-line of an image u(x, t), we end up
with the evolution equation

t
u = [∇u[

curv(u)
1
3
(1.106)
=

u
2
x
2
u
x
1
x
1
−2u
x
1
u
x
2
u
x
1
x
2
+u
2
x
1
u
x
2
x
2
1
3
(1.107)
= [∇u[
2
3
u
1
3
ξξ
, (1.108)
where ξ is the direction perpendicular to ∇u. The temporal evolution of an image
under such an evolution resembles mean curvature motion; see Fig. 5.6(a).
Besides the name affine invariant heat flow, this equation is also called affine
shortening flow, affine morphological scale-space (AMSS), and fundamental equa-
tion in image processing.
This image evolution equation has been discovered independently of and si-
multaneously with the curve evolution approach of Sapiro and Tannenbaum by
Alvarez, Guichard, Lions and Morel [12] via an axiomatic scale-space approach.
After having mentioned some theoretical results, we shall briefly sketch this rea-
soning below.
Theoretical results
The curve evolution properties of affine invariant heat flow can be shown to be the
same as in the Euclidean invariant case, with three exceptions [363]:
(a) Closed curves shrink to points with an ellipse as limiting shape (elliptical
points).
(b) The name affine shortening flow reflects the fact that, under all flows C
t
=
C
qq
, the affine arc-length parametrization q(p):=s(p) is the fastest way to
shrink the affine perimeter
L(t) :=

det

C
p
(p, t), C
pp
(p, t)
1
3
dp. (1.109)
(c) The time for shrinking a circle of radius σ to a point is
T =
3
4
σ
4
3
. (1.110)
For the image evolution equation (1.106) we have the same results as for MCM
and dilation/erosion concerning well-posedness of a viscosity solution which satis-
fies a maximum–minimum principle [12].
42 CHAPTER 1. PARTIAL DIFFERENTIAL EQUATIONS
Scale-space properties
Alvarez, Guichard, Lions and Morel [12] proved that (1.106) is unique (up to tem-
poral rescalings) when imposing on the scale-space axioms for (1.82) an additional
affine invariance axiom:
For every invertible A∈IR
2×2
and for all t ≥0, there exists a rescaled
time t

(t, A)≥0, such that
T
t
(Af) = A(T
t
′ f) ∀ f ∈ BUC(IR
2
). (1.111)
For this reason they call the AMSS equation also fundamental equation in image
analysis. Simplifications of this axiomatic and related axioms for shape scale-spaces
can be found in [16].
The scale-space reasoning of Sapiro and Tannenbaum investigates properties
of the curve evolution, see [362] and the references therein. Based on results of
[229, 24] they point out that the Euclidean absolute curvature decreases as well
as the number of extrema and inflection points of curvature. Moreover, a shape
inclusion principle holds.
1.6.3 Generalizations
In order to analyse planar shapes in a way that does not depend on their location in
IR
3
, one requires a multiscale analysis which is invariant under a general projective
mapping
(x
1
, x
2
)

a
11
x
1
+a
21
x
2
+a
31
a
13
x
1
+a
23
x
2
+a
33
,
a
12
x
1
+a
22
x
2
+a
32
a
13
x
1
+a
23
x
2
+a
33


(1.112)
with A=(a
ij
) ∈ IR
3×3
and det A=1. Research in this direction has been carried
out by Faugeras and Keriven [130, 131, 133], Bruckstein and Shaked [62], Olver
et al. [314], and Dibos [112, 113]. It turns out that intrinsic heat-equation-like
formulations for the projective group are more complicated than the Euclidean
and affine invariant ones, and that there is some evidence that they do not reveal
the same smoothing scale-space properties [314]. A study of heat flows which are
invariant under subgroups of the projective group can be found in [314, 113].
An intrinsic heat flow for images painted on surfaces has been investigated by
Kimmel [232]. It is invariant to the bending (isometric mapping) of the surface.
This geodesic curvature flow and other evolutions, both for scalar and vector-valued
images, can be regarded as steepest descent methods of energy functionals which
have been proposed by Polyakov in the context of string theory [235].
Euclidean and affine invariant curve evolutions can also be modified in order
to obtain area- or length-preserving equations [188, 150, 352, 366].
1.6 CURVATURE-BASED MORPHOLOGICAL PROCESSES 43
Recently it has been suggested to modify AMSS such that any evolution at T-
or X-junctions of isophotes is inhibited [75]. Such a filtering intends to simplify
the image while preserving its “semantical atoms” in the sense of Kanizsa [219].
Generalizations of MCM or AMSS to 3-D images are investigated in [91, 78, 298,
316]. In this case two principal curvatures occur. Since they can have different sign,
the question arises of how to combine them to a process which simplifies arbitrary
surfaces without creating singularities. In contrast to the 2-D situation, topological
changes such as the splitting of conconvex structures may occur. This problem is
reminescent of the creation of new extrema in diffusion scale-spaces when going
from 1-D to 2-D.
Affine scale-space axiomatics for image sequences (movies) have been estab-
lished in [12, 287, 288], and possibilities to generalize the axiomatic of Alvarez,
Guichard, Lions and Morel to colour images are discussed in [82].
1.6.4 Numerical aspects
Due to the equivalence between curve evolution and morphological image pro-
cessing PDEs, we have three main classes of numerical methods: curve evolution
schemes, set-theoretic morphological schemes and approximation schemes for the
Eulerian formulation. A comparison of different methods of these classes can be
found in [95].
Curve evolution schemes are investigated by Mokhtarian and Mackworth [291],
Bruckstein et al. [61], Cohignac et al. [95], Merriman et al. [285], Ruuth [347], and
Moisan [289]. In [61] discrete analogues of MCM and AMSS for the evolution of
planar polygons are introduced. In complete analogy to the behaviour of the con-
tinuous equations, convergence to polygones, whose corners belong to circles and
ellipses, respectively, is established. Related discrete curve evolutions are analysed
in [135, 359]. Curve evolution schemes can reveal perfect affine invariance.
Convergent set-theoretic morphological schemes for MCM and AMSS have been
proposed by Catt´e et al. [80, 79]. On the one hand, they are very fast and they
are entirely invariant under monotone grey-scale transformations, on the other
hand, it is difficult to find consistent approximations on a pixel grid which have
good rotational invariance. This is essentially the same tradeoff as for circular
structuring elements in classical set-theoretic morphology, cf. 1.5.7.
Most direct approximations of morphological image evolution equations are
based on the Osher–Sethian schemes [319, 372, 374]. In the case of MCM or AMSS,
this leads to an explicit finite difference method which approximates the spatial
derivatives by central differences. Different variants of these schemes have been
proposed in order to get better rotational invariance, higher stability or less dissi-
pative effects [10, 15, 95, 267, 362]. A comparative evaluation of these approaches
has been carried out by Lucido et al. [267]. Niessen et al. [305, 304] approximate
44 CHAPTER 1. PARTIAL DIFFERENTIAL EQUATIONS
the spatial derivatives by Gaussian derivatives which are calculated in the Fourier
domain.
Concerning stability one observes that all these explicit schemes can violate a
discrete maximum–minimum principle and require small time steps to be experi-
mentally stable. For AMSS an additional constraint appears: the behaviour of this
equation is highly nonlocal, since affine invariance implies that circles are equiva-
lent to ellipses of any arbitrary eccentricity. If one wants to have a good numerical
approximation of affine invariance, one has to decrease the temporal step size sig-
nificantly below the step size of experimental stability [16, 218]. Using Gaussian
derivatives for MCM or AMSS permits larger time steps for large kernels [304], but
their calculation in the Fourier domain is computationally expensive and aliasing
may lead to oscillatory solutions, cf. 1.2.3.
One way to achieve unconditional L

-stability for MCM is to approximate
u
ξξ
by suitable linear combinations of one-dimensional second-order derivatives
along grid directions and to apply an implicit finite difference scheme [95, 13, 146].
Schemes of this type, however, renounce consistency with the original equation as
well as rotational invariance: round shapes evolve into polygonal structures.
A consistent semi-implicit approximation of MCM which discretizes the first-
order spatial derivatives explicitly and the second-order derivatives implicitly has
been proposed by Alvarez [10]. In order to solve the resulting linear system of
equations he applies symmetric Gauß–Seidel iterations.
Nicolet and Sp¨ uhler [301] investigate a consistent fully implicit scheme for MCM
leading to a nonlinear system of equations. It is solved by means of nonlinear Gauß–
Seidel iterations. Comparing it with the explicit scheme they report a tradeoff
between the larger time step size and the higher computational effort per step.
An inherent problem of all finite difference schemes for morphological image
evolutions are their dissipative effects which create additional blurring of discon-
tinuities. As a remedy, one can decompose the image into binary level sets, map
them into Lipschitz-continuous images by applying a distance transformation, and
run a finite difference method on them. Afterwards one extracts the processed level
sets as the zero-level sets of the evolved images, and assembles the final image by
superimposing all evolved level sets [75]. The natural price one has to pay for the
excellent results is a fairly high computational effort.
A software package which contains implementations of MCM, AMSS and many
other modern techniques such as wavelets, Mumford-Shah segmentation, and ac-
tive contour models (cf. 1.6.6) is available under the name MegaWave2.
16
16
MegaWave2 has been developed by Jacques Froment and Sylvain Parrino, CEREMADE,
University Paris IX, 75775 Paris Cedex 16, France. More information can be found under
http://www.ceremade.dauphine.fr.
1.6 CURVATURE-BASED MORPHOLOGICAL PROCESSES 45
1.6.5 Applications
The special invariances of AMSS are useful for shape recognition tasks [12, 96, 97,
132], for corner detection [15], and for texture discrimination [265, 16]. MCM and
AMSS have also been applied to denoising [305, 304] and blob detection [157, 301]
in medical images and to terrain matching [268]. The potential of MCM for shape
segmentation [290] has even been used for classifying chrysanthemum leaves [1].
If one aims to use these equations for image restoration one usually modifies
them by multiplying them with a term that reduces smoothing at high-contrast
edges [13, 364, 365, 304]; see also Fig. 5.6 (b). Adapting them to tasks such as tex-
ture enhancement requires more sophisticated and more global feature descriptors
than the gradient, for instance an analysis by means of Gabor functions [72, 234].
Introducing a reaction term as in [102] allows to attract the solution to specified
grey values which can be used as quantization levels [11]. Another modification
results from omitting the factor [∇u[ in the mean curvature motion (1.94), see e.g.
[126, 127]. This corresponds to nonlinear diffusion filters and a restoration method
by total variation minimization [345] which shall be described in 1.7.2.
In order to improve images, MCM or AMSS have also been combined with other
processes such as linear diffusion [13], shock filtering ([14], cf. 1.7.1) or global PDEs
for histogramme enhancement [358].
Malladi and Sethian [272] propose to replace MCM by a technique in which
the motion of level curves is based on either min(κ, 0) or max(κ, 0), depending on
the average grey value within a certain neighbourhood. This so-called min–max
flow produces a restored image as steady-state solution and reveals good denoising
properties. Well-posedness results are not known up to now, since the theory of
viscosity solutions is no longer applicable.
All these preceding modifications are at the expense of renouncing the mor-
phological invariance of the genuine operators (and also affine invariance in the
case of [364, 365, 304], unless an “affine invariant gradient” [231, 315] is used). If
one wants to stay within the morphological framework one can combine different
morphological processes, for instance MCM and dilation/erosion. This leads to a
process which is useful for analysing components of shape [228, 230, 383, 384, 453],
and which is called entropy scale-space or reaction–diffusion scale-space.
Recently Steiner et al. proposed a method for caricature-like shape exaggera-
tion [394]. They evolved the boundary curve by means of a backward Euclidean
shortening flow with a stabilizing bias term as in (1.56).
It is interesting to note that, already in 1965, Gabor – the inventor of optical
holography and the so-called Gabor functions – proposed a deblurring algorithm
based on combining MCM with backward smoothing along flowlines [149, 260].
This long-time forgotten method is similar to the Perona–Malik process (1.36) for
large image gradients.
46 CHAPTER 1. PARTIAL DIFFERENTIAL EQUATIONS
1.6.6 Active contour models
One of the main applications of curve evolution ideas appears in the context of
active contour models (deformable models). 2-D versions are also called snakes,
while 3-D active models are sometimes named active surfaces or active blobs. Ac-
tive contour models can be used to search image features in an interactive way.
Especially for assisting the segmentation of medical images they have become very
popular [282]: The expert user gives a good initial guess of an interesting contour
(organ, tumour, ...), which will be carried the rest of the way by some energy
minimization. Apart from these practical merits, snake models incorporate many
ideas ranging from energy minimization over curve evolution to the Perona–Malik
filter and diffusion–reaction models. It is therefore not surprising that they play an
important role in several generalization and unification attempts [356, 380, 452].
Explicit snakes
Kass, Witkin and Terzopoulos proposed the first active contour model in a journal
paper in 1988 [221]. Their snakes can be thought of as an energy-minimizing spline,
which is attracted by image features such as edges. For this reason, the energy
functional consists of two parts: an internal energy fraction which controls the
smoothness of the result, and an external energy term attracting the result to
salient image features.
Such a snake is represented by a curve C(s) = (x
1
(s), x
2
(s))

which minimizes
the functional
E(C(s)) =

C(s)

α
2
[C
s
(s)[
2
+
β
2
[C
ss
(s)[
2
−γ [∇f(C(s))[
2

ds. (1.113)
The first summand is a membrane term causing the curve to shrink, the second
one is a rigidity term which encourages a straight contour, and the third term
pushes the contour to high gradients of the image f. We observe that terms 1
and 2 describe the internal energy, while the third one represents the external
(image) energy. The nonnegative parameters α, β and γ serve as weights of these
expressions. Since this model makes direct use of the snake contour, it is also called
an explicit model.
Minimizing the functional (1.113) by steepest descent gives
∂C
∂t
= αC
ss
−βC
ssss
−γ∇([∇f[
2
), (1.114)
which can be approximated by finite differences. A 3-D version of such an active
contour model is presented in [401].
Usually, the result will depend on the choice of the initial curve and a good
segmentation requires an initial curve which is close to the final segment. The main
1.6 CURVATURE-BASED MORPHOLOGICAL PROCESSES 47
disadvantage of the preceding model is its topological rigidity: a classical explicit
snake cannot split in order to segment several objects simultaneously
17
. In practice,
it is also sometimes not easy to find a good balance between the parameters α, β
and γ.
Implicit snakes
In 1993 some of the inherent difficulties of explicit snakes have been solved by
replacing them by a so-called implicit model. It was discovered by Caselles, Catt´e,
Coll and Dibos [73], and later on by Malladi, Sethian and Vemuri [273].
The idea behind implicit snakes is to embed the initial curve C
0
(s) as a zero
level curve into a function u
0
: IR
2
→ IR, for instance by using the distance
transformation. Then u
0
is evolved under a PDE which includes knowledge about
the original image f:

t
u = g([∇f
σ
[
2
) [∇u[

div

∇u
[∇u[

+ ν

. (1.115)
This evolution is stopped at some time T, when the process does hardly alter
anymore, and the final contour C is extracted as the zero level curve of u(x, T).
The terms in (1.115) have the following meaning:
• [∇u[ div (∇u/[∇u[) is the curvature term of MCM which smoothes level sets;
see (1.94).
• ν[∇u[ describes motion in normal direction, i.e. dilation or erosion depending
on the sign of ν. This so-called balloon force [93] is required for pushing a
level set into concave regions, a compensation for the property of MCM to
create convex regions.
• g is a stopping function such as the Perona–Malik diffusivity (1.32): it be-
comes small for large [∇f
σ
[ = [∇K
σ
∗f[. Hence, it slows down the snake as
soon as it approaches significant edges of the original image f.
For this model Caselles et al. could prove well-posedness in the viscosity sense
[73]. Whitaker and Chen developed similar implicit active contour models for 3-D
images [436, 435], and Caselles and Coll investigated related approaches for image
sequences [74].
An advantage of implicit snake models is their topological flexibility: The con-
tour may split. This allows simultaneous segmentation of multiple objects. More-
over, they use essentially only one remaining parameter, the balloon force ν. On
17
Recently McInerley and Terzopoulos have proposed modified explicit deformable models
which allow topological changes [281, 283].
48 CHAPTER 1. PARTIAL DIFFERENTIAL EQUATIONS
the other hand, the process does not really stop at the desired result, it only slows
down, and it is difficult to interpret implicit snakes in terms of energy minimiza-
tion. In order to address the initialization problem, Tek and Kimia use implicit
active contours starting from randomly chosen seed points, both in 2-D [399] and
in 3-D [400]. They name this technique reaction–diffusion bubbles.
Geodesic snakes
Geodesic snakes make a synthesis of explicit and implicit snake ideas. They have
been proposed simultaneously by Caselles, Kimmel and Sapiro [76] and by Kichenas-
samy, Kumar, Olver, Tannenbaum and Yezzi [226]. These snakes replace the con-
tour energy (1.113) by
E(C) =

C(s)

α
2
[C
s
(s)[
2
−γ g([∇f
σ
(C)[
2
)

ds (1.116)
where g denotes again a Perona–Malik diffusivity of type (1.32). Under some addi-
tional assumptions they derive that minimizing (1.116) is equivalent to searching
min
C

C(s)
g

[∇f
σ
(C(s))[
2

[C
s
(s)[ ds. (1.117)
This is nothing else than finding a curve of minimal distance (geodesic) with respect
to some image-induced metric. Embedding the initial curve as a level set of some
image u
0
and applying a descent method to the corresponding Euler-Lagrange
equation leads to the image evolution PDE

t
u = [∇u[ div

g([∇f
σ
[
2
)
∇u
[∇u[

. (1.118)
This active contour model is parameter-free, but often a speed term νg([∇f
σ
[
2
)[∇u[
is added to achieve faster and more stable attraction to edges. A theoretical analysis
of geodesic snakes concerning existence, uniqueness and stability of a viscosity
solution can be found in [76, 226], and extensions to 3-D images are studied in [77,
226, 271]. Recently also an affine invariant analogue to geodesic active contours has
been proposed [315]. Techniques which can be related to geodesic active contours
have also been used for solving 3-D vision problems such as stereo [134] and motion
analysis [322].
Self-snakes
The properties of geodesic snakes induced Sapiro to use a related technique for
image enhancement [357]: he replaced g([∇f
σ
[
2
) in (1.118) by g([∇u
σ
[
2
). Then the
1.7 TOTAL VARIATION METHODS 49
snake becomes a self-snake no longer underlying external image forces. For σ = 0
this gives

t
u = [∇u[ div

g([∇u[
2
)
∇u
[∇u[

(1.119)
= g([∇u[
2
) u
ξξ
+∇

g([∇u[
2
)

∇u (1.120)
with ξ ⊥ ∇u. Although this equation cannot be cast in divergence form, we observe
striking similarities with the Perona–Malik process from Section 1.3.1: the latter
can be written as

t
u = g([∇u[
2
) ∆u +∇

g([∇u[
2
)

∇u. (1.121)
Thus, it cannot be excluded that a self-snake without spatial regularization reveals
the same ill-posedness problems as the Perona–Malik filter [356]. For σ > 0, how-
ever, Chen, Vemuri and Wong [89] established existence and stability of a unique
viscosity solution to a modified self-snake process. Their model contains a reaction
term which inhibits smoothing at edges and keeps the filtered image u close to the
original image f; cf. [380]. The restored image is given by the steady-state of

t
u = [∇u[ div

g([∇u
σ
[
2
)
∇u
[∇u[

+β [∇u[ (f −u) (β > 0). (1.122)
The temporal evolution of a regularized self-snake without reaction term is de-
picted in Fig. 5.6(c). Generalizations of self-snakes to vector-valued images [357,
361] can be obtained using Di Zenzo’s first fundamental form for colour images
[114]; see also [414, 422] for related ideas.
1.7 Total variation methods
Inspired by observations from fluid dynamics where the total variation (TV)
TV (u) :=


[∇u[ dx (1.123)
plays an important role for shock calculations, one may ask if it is possible to apply
related ideas to image processing. This would be useful to restore discontinuities
such as edges.
Below we shall focus on two important TV-based image restoration techniques
which have been pioneered by Osher and Rudin: TV-preserving methods and tech-
niques which are TV-minimizing subject to certain constraints.
18
18
Another image enhancement method that is close in spirit is due to Eidelman, Grossmann
and Friedman [125]. It maps the image grey values to gas dynamical parameters and solves the
compressible Euler equations using shock-capturing total variation diminishing (TVD) techniques
based on Godunov’s method.
50 CHAPTER 1. PARTIAL DIFFERENTIAL EQUATIONS
1.7.1 TV-preserving methods
In 1990 Osher and Rudin have proposed to restore blurred images by shock filtering
[317]. These filters calculate the restored image as the steady-state solution of the
problem

t
u = −[∇u[ F(L(u)), (1.124)
u(x, 0) = f(x). (1.125)
Here, sgn(F(u)) = sgn(u), and L(u) is a second-order elliptic operator whose zero-
crossings correspond to edges, e.g. the Laplacian L(u) = ∆u or the second-order
directional derivative L(u)=u
ηη
with η |∇u.
By means of our knowledge from morphological processes, we recognize that
this filter aims to produce a flow field that is directed from the interior of a region
towards its edges where it develops shocks. Thus, the goal is to obtain a piecewise
constant steady-state solution with discontinuities only at the edges of the initial
image.
It has been shown that a one-dimensional version of this filter preserves the
total variation and satisfies a maximum–minimum principle, both in the continuous
and discrete case. For the two-dimensional case not many theoretical results are
available except for a discrete maximum–minimum principle.
Recently van den Boomgaard [52] pointed out that the 1-D version of (1.124)
with F(u) := sgn(u) arises as the PDE formulation of a classical image enhance-
ment algorithm by Kramer and Bruckner [243]. Kramer and Bruckner proved in
1975 that their N-dimensional discrete scheme converges after a finite number of
iterations to a state where each point is a local extremum.
Osher and Rudin have also proposed another TV-preserving deblurring tech-
nique [318]. It solves the linear diffusion equation backwards in time under the
regularizing constraint that the total variation remains constant. This stabiliza-
tion can be realized by keeping local extrema fixed during the whole evolution.
From a practical point of view, TV-preserving methods suffer from the problem
that fluctuations due to noise do also create shocks. For this reason, Alvarez and
Mazorra [14] replace the operator L(u) =u
ηη
in (1.124) by a Gaussian-smoothed
version L(K
σ
∗u) = K
σ
∗u
ηη
and supplement the resulting equation with a noise-
eliminating mean curvature process. They prove that their semi-implicit finite-
difference scheme has a unique solution which satisfies a maximum–minimum prin-
ciple.
1.7.2 TV-minimizing methods
Total variation is good for quantifying the simplicity of an image since it mea-
sures oscillations without unduly punishing discontinuities. For this reason, blocky
1.7 TOTAL VARIATION METHODS 51
images (consisting only of a few almost piecewise constant segments) reveal very
small total variation.
In order to restore noisy blocky images, Rudin, Osher and Fatemi [345] have
proposed to minimize the total variation under constraints which reflect assump-
tions about noise.
19
To fix ideas, let us study an example. Given an image f with additive noise of
zero mean and known variance σ
2
, we seek a restoration u satisfying
min
u


[∇u[ dx (1.126)
subject to


(u−f)
2
dx = σ
2
, (1.127)


u dx =


f dx. (1.128)
In order to solve this constrained variational problem, PDE methods can be
applied: A solution of (1.126)–(1.128) verifies necessarily the Euler equation
div

∇u
[∇u[

−µ −λ(u−f) = 0 (1.129)
with homogeneous Neumann boundary conditions. The (unknown) Lagrange mul-
tipliers µ and λ have to be determined in such a way that the constraints are
fulfilled. Interestingly, (1.129) looks similar to the steady-state equation of the
diffusion–reaction equation (1.56), but – in contrast to TV approaches – equa-
tion (1.56) is not intended to satisfy the noise constraint exactly [346]. Moreover,
the divergence term in (1.129) is identical with the curvature, which relates TV-
minimizing techniques to MCM.
In [345] a gradient descent method is proposed to solve (1.129). It uses an
explicit finite difference scheme with central and one-sided spatial differences and
adapts the Lagrange multiplier by means of the gradient projection method of
Rosen.
One may also reformulate the constrained TV minimization as an uncon-
strained problem [83]: The penalized least square problem
min
u

1
2
|u−f|
2
L
2
(Ω)


[∇u[ dx

(1.130)
is equivalent to the constrained TV minimization, if α is related to the Lagrange
multiplier λ via α =
1
λ
.
19
Related ideas have also been developed by Geman and Reynolds [153].
52 CHAPTER 1. PARTIAL DIFFERENTIAL EQUATIONS
In recent years, problems of type (1.130) have attracted much interest from
mathematicians working on inverse problems, optimization, or numerical analysis
[2, 84, 85, 87, 115, 117, 118, 204, 205, 253, 409]. To overcome the problem that
the total variation integral contains the nondifferentiable argument [∇u[, one ap-
plies regularization strategies or techniques from nonsmooth optimization. Much
research is done in order to find efficient numerical methods for which convergence
can be established.
TV-minimizing methods have been generalized in different ways:
• The constrained TV-minimization idea is frequently adapted to other con-
straints such as blur, noise with blur, or other types of noise [262, 344, 346,
116, 253, 410, 83]. Lions et al. [262] and Dobson and Santosa [115] have
shown the existence of BV(Ω)-solutions for problems of this type. Recently,
Chambolle and Lions [83] have extended the existence proof to noncompact
operators (which comprises also the situation without blur), and they have
established uniqueness.
• The tendency of TV-minimizing to create piecewise constant structures can
cause undesired effects such as the creation of staircases at sigmoid-like edges
[116, 83]. As a remedy, it has been proposed to minimize the L
1
-norm of
expressions containing also higher-order derivatives [344, 83]. Another pos-
sibility is to consider the constrained minimization of
B(u) :=


[∇u[
p(|∇u|)
dx, (1.131)
where p([∇u[) decreases from 2 to 1, as [∇u[ ranges from 0 to ∞; see [46].
• TV-minimizing methods have also been used for estimating discontinuous
blurring kernels such as motion or out-of-focus blur from a degraded image.
This leads to TV-based blind deconvolution algorithms [86].
• They have been applied to colour images [45], where the generalized TV
norm is chosen as the l
2
-norm of the TV norms of the separate channels.
• Strong and Chan have identified the parameter α in (1.130) as a scale para-
meter [396]. By adapting α to the local image structure, they establish re-
lations between TV-minimizing methods and nonlinear diffusion techniques
[397].
Total variation methods have been applied to restoring images of military rele-
vance [345, 346, 262, 253], to improving material from criminal and civil investiga-
tions as court evidence [344], and to enhancing pictures from confocal microscopy
[409] and tomography [115, 396]. They are useful for enhancing reconstruction al-
gorithms for inverse scattering problems [37], and the idea of L
1
-norm minimization
has also led to improved optic flow algorithms [245].
1.7 TOTAL VARIATION METHODS 53
1.8 Conclusions and further scope of the book
Although we have seen that there exists a large variety of PDE-based scale-space
and image restoration methods which offer many advantages, we have also become
aware of some limitations. They shall serve as a motivation for the theory which
will be explored in the subsequent chapters.
Linear diffusion and morphological scale-spaces are well-posed and have a solid
axiomatic foundation. On the other hand, for some applications, they possess the
undesirable property that they do not permit contrast enhancement and that they
may blur and delocalize structures.
Pure restoration methods such as diffusion–reaction equations or TV-based
techniques do allow contrast enhancement and lead to stable structures but can
suffer from theoretical or practical problems, for instance unsolved well-posedness
questions or the search for efficient minimizers of nonconvex or nondifferentiable
functionals. Moreover, most image-enhancing PDE methods focus on edge detec-
tion and segmentation problems. Other interesting image restoration topics have
found less attention.
For both scale-space and restoration methods many questions concerning their
discrete realizations are still open: discrete scale-space results are frequently miss-
ing, minimization algorithms can get trapped in a poor local minimum, or the use
of explicit schemes causes restrictive step size limitations.
The goal of the subsequent chapters is to develop a theory for nonlinear aniso-
tropic diffusion filters which addresses some of the abovementioned shortcomings.
In particular, we shall see that anisotropic nonlinear diffusion processes can share
many advantages of the scale-space and the image enhancement world. A scale-
space interpretation is presented which does not exclude contrast enhancement,
and well-posedness results are established. Both scale-space and well-posedness
properties carry over from the continuous to the semidiscrete and discrete setting.
The latter comprises for instance semi-implicit techniques for which unconditional
stability in the L

-norm is proved. The general framework, for which the results
hold, includes also linear and isotropic nonlinear diffusion filters. Finally, specific
anisotropic models are presented which permit applications beyond segmentation
and edge enhancement tasks, for instance enhancement of coherent flow-like struc-
tures in textures.
54 CHAPTER 1. PARTIAL DIFFERENTIAL EQUATIONS
Chapter 2
Continuous diffusion filtering
This chapter presents a general continuous model for anisotropic diffusion filters,
analyses its theoretical properties and gives a scale-space interpretation. To this
end, we adapt the diffusion process to the structure tensor, a well-known tool
for analysing local orientation. Under fairly weak assumptions on the class of fil-
ters, it is possible to establish well-posedness and regularity results and to prove a
maximum–minimum principle. Since the proof does not require any monotony as-
sumption it applies also to contrast-enhancing diffusion processes. After sketching
invariances of the resulting scale-space, we focus on analysing its smoothing prop-
erties. We shall see that, besides the extremum principle, a large class of associated
Lyapunov functionals plays an important role in this context [414, 415].
2.1 Basic filter structure
Let us consider a rectangular image domain Ω := (0, a
1
) (0, a
2
) with boundary
Γ := ∂Ω and let an image be represented by a mapping f ∈ L

(Ω). The class
of anisotropic diffusion filters we are concerned with is represented by the initial
boundary value problem

t
u = div (D ∇u) on Ω (0, ∞), (2.1)
u(x, 0) = f(x) on Ω, (2.2)
'D∇u, n` = 0 on Γ (0, ∞). (2.3)
Hereby, n denotes the outer normal and '., .` the Euclidean scalar product on IR
2
.
In order to adapt the diffusion tensor D ∈ IR
2×2
to the local image structure, one
would usually let it depend on the edge estimator ∇u
σ
(cf. 1.3.3), where
u
σ
(x, t) := (K
σ
∗ ˜ u(., t)) (x) (σ > 0) (2.4)
and ˜ u denotes an extension of u from Ω to IR
2
, which may be obtained by mirroring
at Γ (cf. [81]).
55
56 CHAPTER 2. CONTINUOUS DIFFUSION FILTERING
However, we shall choose a more general structure descriptor which comprises
the edge detector ∇u
σ
, but also allows to extract more information. This will be
presented next.
2.2 The structure tensor
In order to identify features such as corners or to measure the local coherence of
structures, we need methods which take into account how the orientation of the
(smoothed) gradient changes within the vicinity of any investigated point.
The structure tensor – also called interest operator, scatter matrix or (windowed
second) moment tensor – is an important representative of this class. Matrices of
this type are useful for many different tasks, for instance for analysing flow-like
textures [340, 31], corners and T-junctions [145, 182, 310, 309], shape cues [256,
pp. 349–382] and spatio–temporal image sequences [209, pp. 147–153], [168, pp.
219–258]. Related approaches can also be found in [39, 40, 220]. Let us focus on
some aspects which are of importance in our case.
In order to study orientations instead of directions, we have to identify gra-
dients which differ only by their sign: they share the same orientation, but point
in opposite directions. To this end, we reconsider the vector-valued structure de-
scriptor ∇u
σ
within a matrix framework. The matrix J
0
resulting from the tensor
product
J
0
(∇u
σ
) := ∇u
σ
⊗∇u
σ
:= ∇u
σ
∇u
T
σ
(2.5)
has an orthonormal basis of eigenvectors v
1
, v
2
with v
1
| ∇u
σ
and v
2
⊥ ∇u
σ
.
The corresponding eigenvalues [∇u
σ
[
2
and 0 give just the contrast (the squared
gradient) in the eigendirections.
Averaging this orientation information can be accomplished by convolving
J
0
(∇u
σ
) componentwise with a Gaussian K
ρ
. This gives the structure tensor
J
ρ
(∇u
σ
) := K
ρ
∗ (∇u
σ
⊗∇u
σ
) (ρ ≥ 0). (2.6)
It is not hard to verify that the symmetric matrix J
ρ
=

j
11
j
12
j
12
j
22

is positive semidef-
inite and possesses orthonormal eigenvectors v
1
, v
2
with
v
1
|

¸
2j
12
j
22
−j
11
+

(j
11
−j
22
)
2
+ 4j
2
12
¸

. (2.7)
The corresponding eigenvalues µ
1
and µ
2
are given by
µ
1,2
=
1
2

j
11
+j
22
±

(j
11
−j
22
)
2
+ 4j
2
12

, (2.8)
where the + sign belongs to µ
1
. As they integrate the variation of the grey values
within a neighbourhood of size O(ρ), they describe the average contrast in the
2.3. THEORETICAL RESULTS 57
eigendirections. Thus, the integration scale ρ should reflect the characteristic win-
dow size over which the orientation is to be analysed. Presmoothing in order to
obtain ∇u
σ
makes the structure tensor insensitive to noise and irrelevant details
of scales smaller than O(σ). The parameter σ is called local scale or noise scale.
By virtue of µ
1
≥µ
2
≥0, we observe that v
1
is the orientation with the highest
grey value fluctuations, and v
2
gives the preferred local orientation, the coherence
direction. Furthermore, µ
1
and µ
2
can be used as descriptors of local structure:
Constant areas are characterized by µ
1
= µ
2
= 0, straight edges give µ
1
≫µ
2
= 0,
corners can be identified by µ
1
≥ µ
2
≫0, and the expression

1
−µ
2
)
2
= (j
11
−j
22
)
2
+ 4j
2
12
(2.9)
becomes large for anisotropic structures. It is a measure of the local coherence.
An example which illustrates the advantages of the structure tensor for analysing
coherent patterns can be found in Figure 5.10 (d); see Section 5.2.
2.3 Theoretical results
In order to discuss well-posedness results, let us first recall some useful notations.
Let H
1
(Ω) be the Sobolev space of functions u(x) ∈ L
2
(Ω) with all distributional
derivatives of first order being in L
2
(Ω). We equip H
1
(Ω) with the norm
|u|
H
1
(Ω)
:=

|u|
2
L
2
(Ω)
+
2
¸
i=1
|∂
x
i
u|
2
L
2
(Ω)

1/2
(2.10)
and identify it with its dual space. Let L
2
(0, T; H
1
(Ω)) be the space of functions
u, strongly measurable on [0, T] with range in H
1
(Ω) (for the Lebesgue measure
dt on [0, T]) such that
|u|
L
2
(0,T;H
1
(Ω))
:=

¸
T

0
|u(t)|
2
H
1
(Ω)
dt
¸

1/2
< ∞. (2.11)
In a similar way, C([0, T]; L
2
(Ω)) is defined as the space of continuous functions
u : [0, T] →L
2
(Ω) supplemented with the norm
|u|
C([0,T];L
2
(Ω))
:= max
[0,T]
|u(t)|
L
2
(Ω)
. (2.12)
As usual, we denote by C
p
(X, Y ) the set of C
p
-mappings from X to Y .
Now we can give a precise formulation of the problem we are concerned with.
We need the following prerequisites:
58 CHAPTER 2. CONTINUOUS DIFFUSION FILTERING
Assume that f ∈L

(Ω), ρ≥0, and σ, T >0.
Let a:=ess inf

f, b := ess sup

f, and consider the problem

t
u = div (D(J
ρ
(∇u
σ
)) ∇u) on Ω (0, T],
u(x, 0) = f(x) on Ω,
'D(J
ρ
(∇u
σ
))∇u, n` = 0 on Γ (0, T],
where the diffusion tensor D = (d
ij
) satisfies the following
properties:
(C1) Smoothness:
D ∈ C

(IR
2×2
, IR
2×2
).
(C2) Symmetry:
d
12
(J)=d
21
(J) for all symmetric matrices J ∈IR
2×2
.
(C3) Uniform positive definiteness:
For all w∈L

(Ω, IR
2
) with [w(x)[ ≤ K on
¯
Ω, there
exists a positive lower bound ν(K) for the eigenvalues
of D(J
ρ
(w)).

(P
c
)
Under these assumptions the following theorem, which generalizes and extends
results from [81, 414], can be proved.
Theorem 1 (Well-posedness,
1
regularity, extremum principle)
The problem (P
c
) has a unique solution u(x, t) in the distributional sense which
satisfies
u ∈ C([0, T]; L
2
(Ω)) ∩ L
2
(0, T; H
1
(Ω)), (2.13)

t
u ∈ L
2
(0, T; H
1
(Ω)). (2.14)
Moreover, u∈C

(
¯
Ω(0, T]). This solution depends continuously on f with respect
to | . |
L
2
(Ω)
, and it fulfils the extremum principle
a ≤ u(x, t) ≤ b on Ω (0, T]. (2.15)
1
For a complete well-posedness proof one also has to establish stability with respect to per-
turbations of the diffusion equation. This topic will not be addressed here.
2.3. THEORETICAL RESULTS 59
Proof:
(a) Existence, uniqueness and regularity
Existence, uniqueness and regularity are straightforward anisotropic exten-
sions of the proof for the isotropic case studied by Catt´e, Lions, Morel and
Coll [81]. Therefore, we just sketch the basic ideas of this proof.
Existence can be proved using Schauder’s fixed point theorem. One considers
the solution U(w) of a distributional linear version of (P
c
) where D depends
on some function w instead of u. Then one shows that U is a weakly contin-
uous mapping from a nonempty, convex and weakly compact subset W
0
of
W(0, T) :=

w ∈ L
2
(0, T; H
1
(Ω)),
dw
dt
∈ L
2
(0, T; H
1
(Ω))
¸
into itself. Since
W(0, T) is contained in L
2
(0, T; L
2
(Ω)), with compact inclusion, U reveals a
fixed point u ∈ W
0
, i.e. u = U(u).
Smoothness follows from classical bootstrap arguments and the general the-
ory of parabolic equations [246]. Since u(t) ∈ H
1
(Ω) for all t > 0, one deduces
that u(t) ∈ H
2
(Ω) for all t > 0. By iterating, one can establish that u is a
strong solution of (P
c
) and u ∈ C

((0, T]
¯
Ω).
The basic idea of the uniqueness proof consists of using energy estimates for
the difference of two solutions, such that the Gronwall–Bellman inequality
can be applied. Then, uniqueness follows from the fact that both solutions
start with the same initial values.
Finally an iterative linear scheme is investigated, whose solution is shown to
converge in C([0, T]; L
2
(Ω)) to the strong solution of (P
c
).
(b) Extremum principle
In order to prove a maximum–minimum principle, we utilize Stampacchia’s
truncation method (cf. [58], p. 211).
We restrict ourselves to proving only the maximum principle. The minimum
principle follows from the maximum principle when being applied to the
initial datum −f.
Let G ∈ C
1
(IR) be a function with G(s) = 0 on (−∞, 0] and 0 < G

(s) ≤ C
on (0, ∞) for some constant C. Now, we define
H(s) :=
s

0
G(σ) dσ, s ∈ IR,
ϕ(t) :=


H(u(x, t) −b) dx, t ∈ [0, T].
By the Cauchy–Schwarz inequality, we have


[G(u(x, t)−b) ∂
t
u(x, t)[ dx ≤ C |u(t)−b|
L
2
(Ω)
|∂
t
u(t)|
L
2
(Ω)
60 CHAPTER 2. CONTINUOUS DIFFUSION FILTERING
and by virtue of (2.13), (2.14) we know that the right-hand side of this
estimate exists. Therefore, ϕ is differentiable for t > 0, and we get

dt
=


G(u−b) ∂
t
u dx
=


G(u−b) div (D(J
ρ
(∇u
σ
)) ∇u) dx
=

Γ
G(u−b) 'D(J
ρ
(∇u
σ
)) ∇u, n`
. .. .
=0
dS


G

(u−b)
. .. .
≥0
'∇u, D(J
ρ
(∇u
σ
)) ∇u`
. .. .
≥0
dx
≤ 0. (2.16)
By means of H(s) ≤
C
2
s
2
, we have
0 ≤ ϕ(t) ≤


H(u(x, t)−f(x)) dx ≤
C
2
|u(t)−f|
2
L
2
(Ω)
. (2.17)
Since u ∈ C([0, T]; L
2
(Ω)), the right-hand side of (2.17) tends to 0 = ϕ(0)
for t →0
+
which proves the continuity of ϕ(t) in 0. Now from
ϕ ∈ C[0, T], ϕ(0) = 0, ϕ ≥ 0 on [0, T]
and (2.16), it follows that
ϕ ≡ 0 on [0, T].
Hence, for all t ∈ [0, T], we obtain u(x, t)−b ≤ 0 almost everywhere (a.e.) on
Ω. Due to the smoothness of u for t > 0, we finally end up with the assertion
u(x, t) ≤ b on
¯
Ω (0, T].
(c) Continuous dependence on the initial image
Let f, h ∈ L

(Ω) be two initial values and u, w the corresponding solutions.
In the same way as in the uniqueness proof in [81], one shows that there
exists some constant c > 0 such that
d
dt

|u(t)−w(t)|
2
L
2
(Ω)

≤ c |∇u(t)|
2
L
2
(Ω)
|u(t)−w(t)|
2
L
2
(Ω)
.
Applying the Gronwall–Bellman lemma [57, pp. 156–137] yields
|u(t)−w(t)|
2
L
2
(Ω)
≤ |f −h|
2
L
2
(Ω)
exp

¸
c
t

0
|∇u(s)|
2
L
2
(Ω)
ds
¸

.
2.3. THEORETICAL RESULTS 61
By means of the extremum principle we know that u is bounded on
¯
Ω[0, T].
Thus, ∇u
σ
is also bounded, and prerequisite (C3) implies that there exists
some constant ν = ν(σ, |f|
L

(Ω)
) > 0, such that
t

0
|∇u(s)|
2
L
2
(Ω)
ds

T

0
|∇u(s)|
2
L
2
(Ω)
ds

1
ν
T

0


'∇u(x, s), D(J
ρ
(∇u
σ
(x, s)))∇u(x, s)` dx

ds
=
1
ν
T

0


u(x, s) div

D(J
ρ
(∇u
σ
(x, s)))∇u(x, s)

dx

ds

1
ν
T

0
|u(s)|
L
2
(Ω)
|∂
t
u(s)|
L
2
(Ω)
ds

1
ν
|u|
L
2
(0,T;H
1
(Ω))
|∂
t
u|
L
2
(0,T;H
1
(Ω))
.
By virtue of (2.13), (2.14), we know that the right-hand of this estimate
exists. Now, let ǫ > 0 and choose
δ := ǫ exp

−c

|u|
L
2
(0,T;H
1
(Ω))
|∂
t
u|
L
2
(0,T;H
1
(Ω))

.
Then for |f −h|
L
2
(Ω)
< δ, the preceding results imply
|u(t)−w(t)|
L
2
(Ω)
< ǫ ∀ t ∈ [0, T],
which proves the continuous dependence on the initial data. 2
Remarks:
(a) We observe a strong smoothing effect which is characteristic for many dif-
fusion processes: under fairly weak assumptions on the initial image (f ∈
L

(Ω)) we obtain an infinitely often differentiable solution for arbitrary small
positive times. More restrictive requirements – for instance f ∈ BUC(IR
2
)
in order to apply the theory of viscosity solutions – are not necessary in our
case.
(b) Moreover, our proof does not require any monotony assumption. This has the
advantage that contrast-enhancing processes are permitted as well. Chapter
5 will illustrate this by presenting examples where contrast is enhanced.
62 CHAPTER 2. CONTINUOUS DIFFUSION FILTERING
(c) The continuous dependence of the solution on the initial image has signif-
icant practical impact as it ensures stability with respect to perturbations
of the original image. This is of importance when considering stereo image
pairs, spatio-temporal image sequences or slices from medical CT or MRI
sequences, since we know that similar images remain similar after filtering.
2
(d) The extremum principle offers the practical advantage that, if we start for
instance with an image within the range [0, 255], we will never obtain results
with grey value such as 257. It is also closely related to smoothing scale-space
properties, as we shall see in 2.4.2.
(e) The well-posedness results are essentially based on the fact that the regu-
larization by convolution with a Gaussian allows to estimate |∇u
σ
|
L

(Ω)
by
|u|
L

(Ω)
. This property is responsible for the uniform positive definiteness
of the diffusion tensor.
2.4 Scale-space properties
Let us now investigate scale-space properties of the class (P
c
) and juxtapose the re-
sults to other scale-spaces. To this end, we shall not focus on further investigations
of architectural requirements like recursivity, regularity and locality, as these qual-
ities do not distinguish nonlinear diffusion scale-spaces from other ones. We start
with briefly discussing invariances. Afterwards, we turn to a more crucial task,
namely the question in which sense our evolution equation – which may allow con-
trast enhancement – can still be considered as a smoothing, information-reducing
image transformation.
2.4.1 Invariances
Let u(x, t) be the unique solution of (P
c
) and define the scale-space operator T
t
by
T
t
f := u(t), t ≥ 0, (2.18)
where u(t) := u(., t).
The properties we discuss now illustrate that an invariance of T
t
with respect to
some image transformation P is characterized by the fact that T
t
and P commute.
Much of the terminology used below is borrowed from [12].
2
This does not contradict contrast enhancement: In the case of two similar images, where
one leads to contrast enhancement and the other not, the regularization damps the enhancement
process in such a way that both images do not differ much after filtering.
2.4. SCALE-SPACE PROPERTIES 63
Grey level shift invariance
Since the diffusion tensor is only a function of J
ρ
(∇u
σ
), but not of u, we may shift
the grey level range by an arbitrary constant C, and the filtered images will also
be shifted by the same constant. Moreover, a constant function is not affected by
diffusion filtering. Therefore, we have
T
t
(0) = 0, (2.19)
T
t
(f +C) = T
t
(f) + C ∀ t ≥ 0. (2.20)
Reverse contrast invariance
From D(J
ρ
(−∇u
σ
)) = D(J
ρ
(∇u
σ
)), it follows that
T
t
(−f) = −T
t
(f) ∀ t ≥ 0. (2.21)
This property is not fulfilled by classical morphological scale-space equations like
dilation and erosion. When reversing the contrast, the role of dilation and erosion
has to be exchanged as well.
Average grey level invariance
Average grey level invariance is a further property in which diffusion scale-spaces
differ from morphological scale-spaces. In general, the evolution PDEs of the latter
ones are not of divergence form and do not preserve the mean grey value. A con-
stant average grey level is essential for scale-space based segmentation algorithms
such as the hyperstack [307, 408]. It is also a desirable quality for applications
in medical imaging where grey values measure physical qualities of the depicted
object, for instance proton densities in MR images.
Proposition 1 (Conservation of average grey value).
The average grey level
µ :=
1
[Ω[


f(x) dx (2.22)
is not affected by nonlinear diffusion filtering:
1
[Ω[


T
t
f dx = µ ∀ t > 0. (2.23)
Proof:
Define I(t) :=


u(x, t) dx for all t ≥ 0. Then the Cauchy–Schwarz inequality
64 CHAPTER 2. CONTINUOUS DIFFUSION FILTERING
implies
[I(t)−I(0)[ =

u(x, t)−f(x)

dx

≤ [Ω[
1/2
|u(t)−f|
L
2
(Ω)
.
Since u ∈ C([0, T]; L
2
(Ω)), the preceding inequality gives the continuity of I(t) in
0.
For t > 0, Theorem 1, the divergence theorem and the boundary conditions yield
dI
dt
=



t
u dx =

Γ
'D(J
ρ
(∇u
σ
))∇u, n` dS = 0.
Hence, I(t) must be constant for all t ≥ 0. 2
Average grey level invariance may be described by commuting operators, when
introducing an averaging operator M : L
1
(Ω) →L
1
(Ω) which maps f to a constant
image with the same mean grey level:
(Mf)(y) :=
1
[Ω[


f(x) dx ∀ y ∈ Ω. (2.24)
Then Proposition 1 and grey level shift invariance imply that the order of M and
T
t
can be exchanged:
M(T
t
f) = T
t
(Mf) ∀ t ≥ 0. (2.25)
When studying diffusion filtering as a pure initial value problem in the domain
IR
2
, it also makes sense to investigate Euclidean transformations of an image. This
leads us to translation and isometry invariance.
Translation invariance
Define a translation τ
h
by (τ
h
f)(x) := f(x +h). Then diffusion filtering fulfils
T
t

h
f) = τ
h
(T
t
f) ∀ t ≥ 0. (2.26)
This is a consequence of the fact that the diffusion tensor depends on J
ρ
(∇u
σ
)
solely, but not explicitly on x.
Isometry invariance
Let R ∈ IR
2×2
be an orthogonal transformation. If we apply R to f by defining
Rf(x) := f(Rx), then the eigenvalues of the diffusion tensor are unaltered and
any eigenvector v is transformed into Rv. Thus, it makes no difference whether
the orthogonal transformation is applied before or after diffusion filtering:
T
t
(Rf) = R(T
t
f) ∀ t ≥ 0. (2.27)
2.4. SCALE-SPACE PROPERTIES 65
2.4.2 Information-reducing properties
Nonenhancement of local extrema
Koenderink [240] required that a scale-space evolution should not create new level
curves when increasing the scale parameter. If this is satisfied, iso-intensity linking
through the scales is possible and a structure at a coarse scale can (in principle) be
traced back to the original image (causality). For this reason, he imposed that at
spatial extrema with nonvanishing determinant of the Hessian isophotes in scale-
space are upwards convex. He showed that this constraint can be written as
sgn(∂
t
u) = sgn(∆u). (2.28)
A sufficient condition for the causality equation (2.28) to hold is requiring that
local extrema with positive or negative definite Hessians are not enhanced: an
extremum in ξ at time θ satisfies ∂
t
u > 0 if ξ is a minimum, and ∂
t
u < 0 if ξ
is a maximum. This implication is easily seen: In the first case, for instance, the
eigenvalues η
1
, η
2
of the Hessian Hess(u) are positive. Thus,
∆u = trace(Hess(u)) = η
1

2
> 0, (2.29)
giving immediately the causality requirement (2.28).
Nonenhancement of local extrema has first been used by Babaud et al. [30] in
the context of linear diffusion filtering. However, it is also satisfied by nonlinear
diffusion scale-spaces, as we shall see now.
3
Theorem 2 (Nonenhancement of local extrema).
Let u be the unique solution of (P
c
) and consider some θ > 0. Suppose that ξ ∈ Ω
is a local extremum of u(., θ) with nonvanishing Hessian. Then,

t
u(ξ, θ) < 0, if ξ is a local maximum, (2.30)

t
u(ξ, θ) > 0, if ξ is a local minimum. (2.31)
Proof:
Let D(J
ρ
(∇u
σ
)) =: (d
ij
(J
ρ
(∇u
σ
))). Then we have

t
u =
2
¸
i=1
2
¸
j=1


x
i
d
ij
(J
ρ
(∇u
σ
))


x
j
u +
2
¸
i=1
2
¸
j=1
d
ij
(J
ρ
(∇u
σ
)) ∂
x
i
x
j
u. (2.32)
Since ∇u(ξ, θ) = 0 and ∂
x
i
d
ij
(J
ρ
(∇u
σ
(ξ, θ))) is bounded, the first term of the
right-hand side of (2.32) vanishes in (ξ, θ).
3
As in the linear diffusion case, nonenhancement of local extrema generally does not imply
that their number is nonincreasing, cf. 1.2.5 and [342].
66 CHAPTER 2. CONTINUOUS DIFFUSION FILTERING
We know that the diffusion tensor D := D(J
ρ
(∇u
σ
(ξ, θ))) is positive definite.
Hence, there exists an orthogonal matrix S ∈ IR
2×2
such that
S
T
DS = diag(λ
1
, λ
2
) =: Λ
with λ
1
, λ
2
being the positive eigenvalues of D.
Now, let us assume that (ξ, θ) is a local maximum where H := Hess(u(ξ, θ))
and, thus, B := (b
ij
) := S
T
HS are negative definite. Then we have
b
ii
< 0 (i = 1, 2),
and by the invariance of the trace with respect to orthogonal transformations it
follows that

t
u(ξ, θ) = trace (DH)
= trace (S
T
DS S
T
HS)
= trace (ΛB)
=
2
¸
i=1
λ
i
b
ii
< 0.
If ξ is a local minimum of u(x, θ), one proceeds in the same way utilizing the
positive definiteness of the Hessian. 2
Nonenhancement of local extrema distinguishes anisotropic diffusion from clas-
sical contrast enhancing methods such as high-frequency emphasis [163, pp. 182–
183], which do violate this principle. Although possibly behaving like backward
diffusion across edges, nonlinear diffusion is always in the forward region at ex-
trema. This ensures its stability.
It should be noted that nonenhancement of local extrema is just one possibil-
ity to end up with Koenderink’s causality requirement. Another way to establish
causality is via the extremum principle (2.15) following Hummel’s reasoning; see
[189] for more details.
Lyapunov functionals and behaviour for t →∞
Since scale-spaces are intended to subsequently simplify an image, it is desirable
that, for t → ∞, we obtain the simplest possible image representation, namely a
constant image with the same average grey value as the original one. The following
theorem states that anisotropic diffusion filtering always leads to a constant steady-
state. This is due to the class of Lyapunov functionals associated with the diffusion
process.
2.4. SCALE-SPACE PROPERTIES 67
Theorem 3 (Lyapunov functionals and behaviour for t →∞).
Suppose that u is the solution of (P
c
) and let a, b, µ and M be defined as in (P
c
),
(2.22) and (2.24), respectively. Then the following properties are valid:
(a) (Lyapunov functionals)
For all r ∈ C
2
[a, b] with r
′′
≥ 0 on [a, b], the function
V (t) := Φ(u(t)) :=


r(u(x, t)) dx (2.33)
is a Lyapunov functional:
(i) Φ(u(t)) ≥ Φ(Mf) for all t ≥ 0.
(ii) V ∈ C[0, ∞) ∩ C
1
(0, ∞) and V

(t) ≤ 0 for all t > 0.
Moreover, if r
′′
>0 on [a, b], then V (t) = Φ(u(t)) is a strict Lyapunov func-
tional:
(iii) Φ(u(t)) = Φ(Mf) ⇐⇒

u(t) = Mf on
¯
Ω (if t > 0)
u(t) = Mf a.e. on Ω (if t = 0)
(iv) If t > 0, then V

(t) = 0 if and only if u(t) = Mf on
¯
Ω.
(v) V (0) = V (T) for T > 0 ⇐⇒

f = Mf a.e. on Ω and
u(t) = Mf on
¯
Ω (0, T]
(b) (Convergence)
(i) lim
t→∞
|u(t) −Mf|
L
p
(Ω)
= 0 for p ∈ [1, ∞).
(ii) In the 1D case, the convergence lim
t→∞
u(x, t) = µ is uniform on
¯
Ω.
Proof:
(a) (i) Since r ∈ C
2
[a, b] with r
′′
≥ 0 on [a, b], we know that r is convex on
[a, b]. Using the average grey level invariance and Jensen’s inequality we
obtain, for all t ≥ 0,
Φ(Mf) =


r

¸
1
[Ω[


u(x, t) dx
¸

dy

¸
1
[Ω[


r(u(x, t)) dx
¸

dy
=


r(u(x, t)) dx
= Φ(u(t)). (2.34)
68 CHAPTER 2. CONTINUOUS DIFFUSION FILTERING
(ii) Let us start by proving the continuity of V (t) in 0. Thanks to the
maximum–minimum principle, we may choose a constant
L := max
s∈[a,b]
[r

(s)[
such that for all t > 0, the Lipschitz condition
[r(u(x, t))−r(f(x))[ ≤ L [u(x, t)−f(x)[
is verified a.e. on Ω. From this and the Cauchy–Schwarz inequality, we
get
[V (t)−V (0)[ ≤ [Ω[
1/2
|r(u(t))−r(f)|
L
2
(Ω)
≤ [Ω[
1/2
L |u(t)−f|
L
2
(Ω)
,
and by virtue of u ∈ C([0, T]; L
2
(Ω)), the limit t → 0
+
gives the an-
nounced continuity in 0.
By Theorem 1 and the boundedness of r

on [a, b], we know that V is
differentiable for t > 0 and V

(t) =


r

(u) u
t
dx. Thus, the divergence
theorem yields
V

(t) =


r

(u) div (D(J
ρ
(∇u
σ
))∇u) dx
=

Γ
r

(u) 'D(J
ρ
(∇u
σ
))∇u, n`
. .. .
=0
dS


r
′′
(u)
. .. .
≥0
'∇u, D(J
ρ
(∇u
σ
))∇u`
. .. .
≥0
dx
≤ 0.
(iii) Let Φ(u(t)) = Φ(Mf).
If t > 0, then u(t) is continuous in
¯
Ω. Let us now show that equality in
the estimate (2.34) implies that u(t) = const. on
¯
Ω. To this end, assume
that u is not constant on
¯
Ω. Then, by the continuity of u, there exists
a partition Ω = Ω
1
∪ Ω
2
with [Ω
1
[, [Ω
2
[ ∈ (0, [Ω[) and
α :=
1
[Ω
1
[


1
u dx =
1
[Ω
2
[


2
u dx =: β.
From r
′′
>0 on [a, b] it follows that r is strictly convex on [a, b] and
r

¸
1
[Ω[


u dx
¸

= r

[Ω
1
[
[Ω[
α +
[Ω
2
[
[Ω[
β

2.4. SCALE-SPACE PROPERTIES 69
<
[Ω
1
[
[Ω[
r(α) +
[Ω
1
[
[Ω[
r(β)

1
[Ω[


1
r(u) dx +
1
[Ω[


2
r(u) dx
=
1
[Ω[


r(u) dx.
If we utilize this result in the estimate (2.34) we observe that, for t >0,
Φ(u(t)) = Φ(Mf) implies that u(t) = const. on
¯
Ω. Thanks to the
average grey value invariance we finally obtain u(t) = Mf on
¯
Ω.
So let us turn to the case t = 0. From (i) and (ii), we conclude that
Φ(u(θ)) = Φ(Mf) for all θ > 0. Thus, we have u(θ) = Mf for all θ > 0.
For θ > 0, the Cauchy–Schwarz inequality gives


[u(x, θ) −µ[ dx ≤ [Ω[
1/2
|u(θ) −Mf|
L
2
(Ω)
= 0.
Since u ∈ C([0, T]; L
2
(Ω)), the limit θ → 0
+
finally yields u(0) = Mf
a.e. on Ω.
Conversely, it is obvious that u(t) = Mf (a.e.) on Ω implies Φ(u(t)) =
Φ(Mf).
(iv) Let t > 0 and V

(t) = 0. Then from
0 = V

(t) = −


r
′′
(u(x, t))
. .. .
>0
'∇u(x, t), D(J
ρ
(∇u
σ
(x, t)))∇u(x, t)` dx
and the smoothness of u we obtain
'∇u, D(J
ρ
(∇u
σ
))∇u` = 0 on
¯
Ω.
By the uniform boundedness of D, there exists some constant ν > 0,
such that
ν [∇u[
2
≤ '∇u, D(J
ρ
(∇u
σ
))∇u` on
¯
Ω (0, ∞).
Thus, we have ∇u(x, t) = 0 a.e. on Ω. Due to the continuity of ∇u,
this yields u(x, t) = const. for all x ∈ Ω, and the average grey level
invariance finally gives u(x, t) = µ on Ω.
Conversely, let u(x, t) = µ on Ω. Then,
V

(t) = −


r
′′
(u) '∇u, D(J
ρ
(∇u
σ
))∇u` dx = 0.
70 CHAPTER 2. CONTINUOUS DIFFUSION FILTERING
(v) Suppose that V (T) = V (0). Since V is decreasing, we have
V (t) = const. on [0, T].
Let ǫ > 0. Then for any t ∈ [ǫ, T], we have V

(t) = 0, and part (iv)
implies that u(t) = Mf on Ω. Now, the Cauchy–Schwarz inequality
gives


[f −Mf[ dx ≤ [Ω[
1/2
|f −u(t)|
L
2
(Ω)
.
As u ∈ C([0, T]; L
2
(Ω)), the limit t →0
+
yields f = Mf a.e. on Ω.
Conversely, if u(t) = Mf (a.e.) on Ω holds for all t ∈ [0, T], it is evident
that V (0) = V (T).
(b) (i) By the grey level shift invariance we know that v := u−Mf satisfies the
diffusion equation as well. We multiply this equation by v, integrate,
and use the divergence theorem to obtain


vv
t
dx = −


'∇v, D(J
ρ
(∇v
σ
))∇v` dx.
Since ∇v
σ
is bounded, we find some ν > 0 such that
1
2
d
dt
(|v|
2
L
2
(Ω)
) ≤ −ν |∇v|
2
L
2
(Ω)
.
For t > 0, there exists some x
0
with v(x
0
) = 0. Therefore, Poincar´e’s
inequality (cf. [9, p. 122]) may be applied giving
|v|
2
L
2
(Ω)
≤ C
0
|∇v|
2
L
2
(Ω)
with some constant C
0
= C
0
(Ω) > 0. This yields
d
dt
|v|
2
L
2
(Ω)
≤ −2ν C
0
|v|
2
L
2
(Ω)
and hence the exponential decay of |v|
L
2
(Ω)
to 0.
By the maximum principle, we know that |v(t)|
L

(Ω)
is bounded by
|f −Mf|
L

(Ω)
. Thus, for q ∈ IN, q ≥ 2, we get
|v(t)|
q
L
q
(Ω)
≤ |f −Mf|
q−2
L

(Ω)
|v(t)|
2
L
2
(Ω)
→ 0,
and H¨older’s inequality gives, for 1 ≤ p < q < ∞,
|v(t)|
L
p
(Ω)
≤ [Ω[
(1/p)−(1/q)
|v(t)|
L
q
(Ω)
→ 0.
This proves the assertion.
2.4. SCALE-SPACE PROPERTIES 71
(ii) To prove uniform convergence in the one-dimensional setting, we can
generalize and adapt methods from [202] to our case.
Let Ω = (0, a). From part (a) we know that V (t) :=
a

0
u
2
(x, t) dx is
nonincreasing and bounded from below. Thus, the sequence (V (i))
i∈IN
converges.
Since V ∈ C[0, ∞) ∩ C
1
(0, ∞) the mean value theorem implies
∃ t
i
∈ (i, i+1) : V

(t
i
) = V (i + 1) −V (i).
Thus, (t
i
)
i∈IN
→ ∞ and from the convergence of (V (i))
i∈IN
it follows
that
V

(t
i
) →0. (2.35)
Thanks to the uniform positive definiteness of D there exists some ν > 0
such that, for t > 0,
V

(t) = −2
a

0
u
2
x
D(J
ρ
(∂
x
u
σ
)) dx
≤ −2ν
a

0
u
2
x
dx
≤ 0. (2.36)
Equations (2.35) and (2.36) yield
|u
x
(t
i
)|
L
2
(Ω)
→0.
Hence, u(t
i
) is a bounded sequence in H
1
(0, a). By virtue of the Rellich–
Kondrachov theorem [7, p. 144] we know that the embedding from
H
1
(0, a) into C
0,α
[0, a], the space of H¨older-continuous functions on [0, a]
[7, pp. 9–12], is compact for α∈(0,
1
2
). Therefore, there exists a subse-
quence (t
i
j
) →∞ and some ¯ u with
u(t
i
j
) → ¯ u in C
0,α
[0, a].
This also gives u(t
i
j
) → ¯ u in L
2
(0, a). Since we already know from (b)(i)
that u(t
i
j
) →Mf in L
2
(0, a), it follows that ¯ u = Mf. Hence,
lim
j→∞
|u(t
i
j
) −Mf|
L

(Ω)
= 0. (2.37)
Part (a) tells us that |u(t)−Mf|
p
L
p
(Ω)
is a Lyapunov function for p ≥ 2.
Thus,
|u(t)−Mf|
L

(Ω)
= lim
p→∞
|u(t)−Mf|
L
p
(Ω)
72 CHAPTER 2. CONTINUOUS DIFFUSION FILTERING
is also nonincreasing. Therefore, lim
t→∞
|u(t)−Mf|
L

(Ω)
exists and from
(2.37) we conclude that
lim
t→∞
|u(t)−Mf|
L

(Ω)
= 0.
The smoothness of u establishes finally that the convergence
lim
t→∞
u(x, t) = µ
is uniform on
¯
Ω. 2
Since the class (P
c
) does not forbid contrast enhancement it admits processes
where forward diffusion has to compete with backward diffusion. Theorem 3 is
of importance as it states that the regularization by convolving with K
σ
tames
the backward diffusion in such a way that forward diffusion wins in the long run.
Moreover, the competition evolves in a certain direction all the time: although
backward diffusion may be locally superior, the global result – denoted by the
Lyapunov functional – becomes permanently better for forward diffusion.
Let us have a closer look at what might be the meaning of this global result in
the context of image processing. Considering the Lyapunov functions associated
with r(s) := [s[
p
, r(s) := (s−µ)
2n
and r(s) := s ln s, respectively, the preceding
theorem gives the following corollary.
Corollary 1 (Special Lyapunov functionals).
Let u be the solution of (P
c
) and a and µ be defined as in (P
c
) and (2.22). Then
the following functions are decreasing for t ∈ [0, ∞):
(a) |u(t)|
L
p
(Ω)
for all p ≥ 2.
(b) M
2n
[u(t)] :=
1
[Ω[


(u(x, t) −µ)
2n
dx for all n ∈ IN.
(c) H[u(t)] :=


u(x, t) ln(u(x, t)) dx, if a > 0.
Corollary 1 offers multiple possibilities of how to interpret nonlinear anisotropic
diffusion filtering as a smoothing transformation.
As a special case of (a) it follows that the energy |u(t)|
2
L
2
(Ω)
is reduced by
diffusion.
Part (b) gives a probabilistic interpretation of anisotropic diffusion filtering.
Consider the intensity in an image f as a random variable Z
f
with distribution
2.4. SCALE-SPACE PROPERTIES 73
F
f
(z), i.e. F
f
(z) is the probability that an arbitrary grey value Z
f
of f does not
exceed z. By the average grey level invariance, µ is equal to the expected value
EZ
u(t)
:=

IR
z dF
u(t)
(z), (2.38)
and it follows that M
2n
[u(t)] is just the even central moment

IR

z−EZ
u(t)

2n
dF
u(t)
(z). (2.39)
The second central moment (the variance) characterizes the spread of the intensity
about its mean. It is a common tool for constructing measures for the relative
smoothness of the intensity distribution. The fourth moment is frequently used to
describe the relative flatness of the grey value distribution. Higher moments are
more difficult to interpret, although they do provide important information for
tasks like texture discrimination [163, pp. 414–415]. All decreasing even moments
demonstrate that the image becomes smoother during diffusion filtering. Hence,
local effects such as edge enhancement, which object to increase central moments,
are overcompensated by smoothing in other areas.
If we choose another probabilistic model of images, then part (c) characterizes
the information-theoretical side of our scale-space. Provided the initial image f is
strictly positive on Ω, we may regard it also as a two-dimensional density.
4
Then,
S[u(t)] := −


u(x, t) ln(u(x, t)) dx (2.40)
is called the entropy of u(t), a measure of uncertainty and missing information [63].
Since anisotropic diffusion filters increase the entropy the corresponding scale-space
embeds the genuine image f into a family of subsequently likelier versions of it
which contain less information. Moreover, for t →∞, the process reaches the state
with the lowest possible information, namely a constant image. This information-
reducing property indicates that anisotropic diffusion might be generally useful in
the context of image compression. In particular, it helps to explain the success of
nonlinear diffusion filtering as a preprocessing step for subsampling as observed in
[144]. The interpretation of the entropy in terms of Lyapunov functionals carries
also over to generalized entropies; see [390] for more details.
From all the previous considerations, we recognize that, in spite of possible
contrast-enhancing properties, anisotropic diffusion does really simplify the ori-
ginal image in a steady way.
Let us finally point out another interpretation of the Lyapunov functionals. In
a classic scale-space representation, the time t plays the role of the scale para-
meter. By increasing t, one transforms the image from a local to a more global
4
Without loss of generality we omit the normalization.
74 CHAPTER 2. CONTINUOUS DIFFUSION FILTERING
representation. We have seen in Chapter 1 that, for linear diffusion scale-spaces
and morphological scale-spaces, it is possible to associate with the evolution time
a corresponding spatial scale.
In the nonlinear diffusion case, however, the situation is more complicated.
Since the smoothing is nonuniform, one can only define an average measure for
the globality of the representation. This can be achieved by taking some Lyapunov
function Φ(u(t)) and investigating the expression
Ψ(u(t)) :=
Φ(f) −Φ(u(t))
Φ(f) −Φ(Mf)
. (2.41)
We observe that Ψ(t) increases from 0 to 1. It gives the average globality of u(t) and
its value can be used to measure the distance of u(t) from the initial state f and the
final state Mf. Prescribing a certain value for Ψ provides us with an a-posteriori
criterion for the stopping time of the nonlinear diffusion process. Experiments in
this direction can be found in [431, 308].
Chapter 3
Semidiscrete diffusion filtering
The goal of this chapter is to study a semidiscrete framework for diffusion scale-
spaces where the image is sampled on a finite grid and the scale parameter is
continuous. This leads to a system of nonlinear ordinary differential equations
(ODEs). We shall investigate conditions under which one can establish similar
properties as in the continuous setting concerning well-posedness, extremum prin-
ciples, average grey level invariance, Lyapunov functions, and convergence to a
constant steady-state. Afterwards we shall discuss whether it is possible to obtain
such filters from spatial discretizations of the continuous models that have been
investigated in Chapter 2. We will see that there exists a finite stencil on which
a difference approximation of the spatial derivatives are in accordance with the
semidiscrete scale-space framework.
3.1 The general model
A discrete image can be regarded as a vector f ∈IR
N
, N ≥2, whose components
f
j
, j = 1,...,N represent the grey values at each pixel. We denote the index set
¦1, ..., N¦ by J. In order to specify the requirements for our semidiscrete filter
class we first recall a useful definition of irreducible matrices [407, pp. 18–20].
Definition 1 (Irreducibility). A matrix A = (a
ij
) ∈ IR
N×N
is called irreducible
if for any i, j ∈ J there exist k
0
,...,k
r
∈ J with k
0
= i and k
r
= j such that
a
kpk
p+1
= 0 for p = 0,...,r−1.
The semidiscrete problem class (P
s
) we are concerned with is defined in the
following way:
75
76 CHAPTER 3. SEMIDISCRETE DIFFUSION FILTERING
Let f ∈ IR
N
. Find a function u ∈ C
1
([0, ∞), IR
N
) which satisfies an
initial value problem of type
du
dt
= A(u) u,
u(0) = f,
where A = (a
ij
) has the following properties:
(S1) Lipschitz-continuity of A ∈ C(IR
N
, IR
N×N
) for every bounded
subset of IR
N
,
(S2) symmetry: a
ij
(u) = a
ji
(u) ∀ i, j ∈ J, ∀ u ∈ IR
N
,
(S3) vanishing row sums:
¸
j∈J
a
ij
(u) = 0 ∀ i ∈ J, ∀ u ∈ IR
N
,
(S4) nonnegative off-diagonals: a
ij
(u) ≥ 0 ∀ i = j, ∀ u ∈ IR
N
,
(S5) irreducibility for all u ∈ IR
N
.

(P
s
)
Not all of these requirements are necessary for every theoretical result below.
(S1) is needed for well-posedness, the proof of a maximum–minimum principle
involves (S3) and (S4), while average grey value invariance uses (S2) and (S3).
The existence of Lyapunov functions can be established by means of (S2)–(S4),
and strict Lyapunov functions and the convergence to a constant steady-state
require (S5) in addition to (S2)–(S4).
This indicates that these properties reveal some interesting parallels to the
continuous setting from Chapter 2: In both cases we need smoothness assumptions
to ensure well-posedness; (S2) and (S3) correspond to the specific structure of the
divergence expression with a symmetric diffusion tensor D, while (S4) and (S5)
play a similar role as the nonnegativity of the eigenvalues of D and its uniform
positive definiteness, respectively.
3.2 Theoretical results
Before we can establish scale-space results, it is of importance to ensure the ex-
istence of a unique solution. This is done in the theorem below which also states
the continuous dependence of the solution and a maximum–minimum principle.
3.2. THEORETICAL RESULTS 77
Theorem 4 (Well-posedness, extremum principle).
For every T > 0 the problem (P
s
) has a unique solution u(t) ∈ C
1
([0, T], IR
N
).
This solution depends continuously on the initial value and the right-hand side of
the ODE system, and it satisfies the extremum principle
a ≤ u
i
(t) ≤ b ∀ i ∈ J, ∀ t ∈ [0, T], (3.1)
where
a := min
j∈J
f
j
, (3.2)
b := max
j∈J
f
j
. (3.3)
Proof:
(a) Local existence and uniqueness
Local existence and uniqueness are proved by showing that our problem
satisfies the requirements of the Picard–Lindel¨of theorem [432, p. 59].
Let t
0
:= 0 and β > 0. Evidently, φ(t, u) := ψ(u) := A(u) u is continuous on
B
0
:= [0, T]

u ∈ IR
N

|u|

≤ |f|


¸
,
since it is a composition of continuous functions. Moreover, by the compact-
ness of B
0
there exists some c > 0 with
|φ(t, u)|

≤ c ∀ (t, u) ∈ B
0
.
In order to prove existence and uniqueness of a solution of (P
s
) in
R
0
:=

(t, u)

t ∈ [t
0
, t
0
+min(
β
c
, T)], |u−f|

≤ β
¸
⊂ B
0
we have to show that φ(t, u) satisfies a global Lipschitz condition on R
0
with
respect to u. However, this follows directly from the fact that A is Lipschitz-
continuous on ¦u ∈ IR
N
[ |u−f|

≤ β¦.
(b) Maximum–minimum principle
We prove only the maximum principle, since the proof for the minimum
principle is analogous.
Assume that the problem (P
s
) has a unique solution on [0, θ]. First we show
that the derivative of the largest component of u(t) is nonpositive for every
78 CHAPTER 3. SEMIDISCRETE DIFFUSION FILTERING
t ∈ [0, θ]. Let u
k
(ϑ) := max
j∈J
u
j
(ϑ) for some arbitrary ϑ ∈ [0, θ]. If we keep
this k fixed we obtain, for t = ϑ,
du
k
dt
=
¸
j∈J
a
kj
(u) u
j
= a
kk
(u) u
k
+
¸
j∈J\{k}
a
kj
(u)
. .. .
≥0
u
j
....
≤u
k
≤ u
k

¸
j∈J
a
kj
(u)
(S4)
= 0. (3.4)
Let us now prove that this implies a maximum principle (cf. [201]).
Let ε > 0 and set
u
ε
(t) := u(t) −

¸
¸
¸
εt
.
.
.
εt
¸

.
Moreover, let P := ¦p∈J [ u
εp
(0) = max
j∈J
u
εj
(0)¦. Then, by (3.4),

du
εp
dt

(0) =

du
p
dt

(0)
. .. .
≤0
−ε < 0 ∀ p ∈ P. (3.5)
By means of
max
i∈J\P
u
εi
(0) < max
j∈J
u
εj
(0),
and the continuity of u there exists some t
1
∈ (0, θ) such that
max
i∈J\P
u
εi
(t) < max
j∈J
u
εj
(0) ∀ t ∈ [0, t
1
). (3.6)
Next, let us consider some p ∈ P. Due to (3.5) and the smoothness of u we
may find a ϑ
p
∈ (0, θ) with

du
εp
dt

(t) < 0 ∀ t ∈ [0, ϑ
p
).
Thus, we have
u
εp
(t) < u
εp
(0) ∀ t ∈ (0, ϑ
p
)
and, for t
2
:= min
p∈P
ϑ
p
, it follows that
max
p∈P
u
εp
(t) < max
j∈J
u
εj
(0) ∀ t ∈ (0, t
2
). (3.7)
3.2. THEORETICAL RESULTS 79
Hence, for t
0
:= min(t
1
, t
2
), the estimates (3.6) and (3.7) give
max
j∈J
u
εj
(t) < max
j∈J
u
εj
(0) ∀ t ∈ (0, t
0
). (3.8)
Now we prove that this estimate can be extended to the case t ∈ (0, θ). To
this end, assume the opposite is true. Then, by virtue of the intermediate
value theorem, there exists some t
3
which is the smallest time in (0, θ) such
that
max
j∈J
u
εj
(t
3
) = max
j∈J
u
εj
(0).
Let u
εk
:= max
j∈J
u
εj
(t
3
). Then the minimality of t
3
yields
u
εk
(t) < u
εk
(t
3
) ∀ t ∈ (0, t
3
), (3.9)
and inequality (3.4) gives

du
εk
dt

(t
3
) =

du
k
dt

(t
3
)
. .. .
≤0
−ε < 0.
Due to the continuity of
du
dt
there exists some t
4
∈ (0, t
3
) with

du
εk
dt

(t) < 0 ∀ t ∈ (t
4
, t
3
]. (3.10)
The mean value theorem, however, implies that we find a t
5
∈ (t
4
, t
3
) with

du
εk
dt

(t
5
) =
u
εk
(t
3
) −u
εk
(t
4
)
t
3
−t
4
(3.9)
> 0,
which contradicts (3.10). Hence, (3.8) must be valid on the entire interval
(0, θ).
Together with u = lim
ε→0
u
ε
and the continuity of u this yields the announced
maximum principle
max
j∈J
u
j
(t) ≤ max
j∈J
u
j
(0) ∀ t ∈ [0, θ].
(c) Global existence and uniqueness
Global existence and uniqueness follow from local existence and uniqueness
when being combined with the extremum principle.
Using the notations and results from (a), we know that the problem (P
s
) has
a unique solution u(t) for t ∈ [t
0
, t
0
+ min(
β
c
, T)].
80 CHAPTER 3. SEMIDISCRETE DIFFUSION FILTERING
Now let t
1
:= t
0
+ min(
β
c
, T), g := u(t
1
), and consider the problem
du
dt
= A(u) u,
u(t
1
) = g.
Clearly, φ(t, u) = A(u)u is continuous on
B
1
:= [0, T]

u ∈ IR
N

|u|

≤ |g|


¸
,
and by the extremum principle we know that B
1
⊂ B
0
. Hence,
|φ(t, u)|

≤ c ∀ (t, u) ∈ B
1
.
with the same c as in (a). Using the same considerations as in (a) one shows
that φ is Lipschitz-continuous on
R
1
:=

(t, u)

t ∈ [t
1
, t
1
+min(
β
c
, T)], |u−g|

≤ β
¸
.
Hence, the considered problem has a unique solution on [t
1
, t
1
+ min(
β
c
, T)].
Therefore, (P
s
) reveals a unique solution on [0, min(

c
, T)], and, by iterating
this reasoning, the existence of a unique solution can be extended to the
entire interval [0, T]. As a consequence, the extremum principle is valid on
[0, T] as well.
(d) Continuous dependence
Let u(t) be the solution of
du
dt
= φ(t, u),
u(0) = f
for t ∈[0, T] and φ(u, t) =ψ(u) =A(u)u. In order to show that u(t) depends
continuously on the initial data and the right-hand side of the ODE system,
it is sufficient to prove that φ(t, u) is continuous, and that there exists some
α > 0 such that φ(t, u) satisfies a global Lipschitz condition on
S
α
:=

(t, v)

t ∈ [0, T], |v−u|

≤ α
¸
.
with respect to its second argument. In this case the results in [412, p. 93]
ensure that for every ε > 0 there exists a δ > 0 such that the solution ˜ u of
the perturbed problem
d˜ u
dt
=
˜
φ(t, ˜ u),
˜ u(0) =
˜
f
3.3. SCALE-SPACE PROPERTIES 81
with continuous
˜
φ and
|
˜
f −f|

< δ,
|
˜
φ(t, v) −φ(t, v)|

< δ for |v −u|

< α
exists in [0, T] and satisfies the inequality
|˜ u(t) −u(t)|

< ε.
Similar to the the local existence and uniqueness proof, the global Lipschitz
condition on S
α
follows direcly from the fact that A is Lipschitz-continuous
on ¦v ∈ IR
N
[ |v−u|

≤ α¦. 2
3.3 Scale-space properties
It is evident that properties such as grey level shift invariance or reverse contrast
invariance are automatically satisfied by every consistent semidiscrete approxima-
tion of the continuous filter class (P
c
). On the other hand, translation invariance
only makes sense for translations in grid direction with multiples of the grid size,
and isometry invariance is satisfied for consistent schemes up to an discretization
error. So let us focus on average grey level invariance now.
Proposition 2 (Conservation of average grey value).
The average grey level
µ :=
1
N
¸
j∈J
f
j
(3.11)
is not affected by the semidiscrete diffusion filter:
1
N
¸
j∈J
u
j
(t) = µ ∀ t ≥ 0. (3.12)
Proof:
By virtue of (S2) and (S3) we have
¸
j∈J
a
jk
(u) = 0 for all k ∈ J. Thus, for t ≥ 0,
¸
j∈J
du
j
dt
=
¸
j∈J
¸
k∈J
a
jk
(u) u
k
=
¸
k∈J

¸
j∈J
a
jk
(u)

u
k
= 0,
which shows that
¸
j∈J
u
j
(t) is constant on [0, ∞) and concludes the proof. 2
This property is in complete accordance with the result for the continuous filter
class.
82 CHAPTER 3. SEMIDISCRETE DIFFUSION FILTERING
Similar to the continuous setting, it is possible to find a large class of Lyapunov
functions which establish smoothing scale-space properties and ensure that the
image tends to a constant steady-state with the same average grey level as the
initial image.
Theorem 5 (Lyapunov functions and behaviour for t →∞).
Let u(t) be the solution of (P
s
), let a, b, and µ be defined as in (3.2), (3.3), and
(3.11), respectively, and let c := (µ, µ, ..., µ)

∈ IR
N
.
Then the following properties are valid:
(a) (Lyapunov functions)
For all r ∈ C
1
[a, b] with increasing r

on [a, b], the function
V (t) := Φ(u(t)) :=
¸
i∈J
r(u
i
(t))
is a Lyapunov function:
(i) Φ(u) ≥ Φ(c) for all t ≥ 0.
(ii) V ∈ C
1
[0, ∞) and V

(t) ≤ 0 for all t ≥ 0.
Moreover, if r

is strictly increasing on [a, b], then V (t) = Φ(u(t)) is a strict
Lyapunov function:
(iii) Φ(u) = Φ(c) ⇐⇒ u = c
(iv) V

(t) = 0 ⇐⇒ u = c
(b) (Convergence)
lim
t→∞
u(t) = c.
Proof:
(a) (i) Since r

is increasing on [a, b] we know that r is convex on [a, b]. Average
grey level invariance and this convexity yield, for all t ≥ 0,
Φ(c) =
N
¸
i=1
r

¸
N
¸
j=1
1
N
u
j
¸


N
¸
i=1

¸
1
N
N
¸
j=1
r(u
j
)
¸

=
N
¸
j=1
r(u
j
)
= Φ(u). (3.13)
3.3. SCALE-SPACE PROPERTIES 83
(ii) Since u ∈ C
1
([0, ∞), IR
N
) and r ∈ C
1
[a, b], it follows that V ∈ C
1
[0, ∞).
Using the prerequisites (S2) and (S3) we get
V

(t) =
N
¸
i=1
du
i
dt
r

(u
i
)
(S3)
=
N
¸
i=1
N
¸
j=1
a
ij
(u) (u
j
−u
i
) r

(u
i
)
=
N
¸
i=1

¸
N
¸
j=i+1
+
i−1
¸
j=1
¸

a
ij
(u) (u
j
−u
i
) r

(u
i
)
=
N
¸
i=1
N−i
¸
k=1
a
i,i+k
(u) (u
i+k
−u
i
) r

(u
i
)
+
N
¸
i=1
N−i
¸
k=1
a
i+k,i
(u) (u
i
−u
i+k
) r

(u
i+k
)
(S2)
=
N
¸
i=1
N−i
¸
k=1
a
i,i+k
(u) (u
i+k
−u
i
)

r

(u
i
)−r

(u
i+k
)

. (3.14)
Since r

is increasing, we always have
(u
i+k
−u
i
)

r

(u
i
) −r

(u
i+k
)

≤ 0.
With this and (S4), equation (3.14) implies that V

(t) ≤ 0 for t ≥ 0.
(iii) Let us first prove that equality in the estimate (3.13) implies that all
components of u are equal.
To this end, suppose that u
i
0
:= min
i
u
i
< max
j
u
j
=: u
j
0
and let
η :=
N
¸
j=1
j=j
0
1
N
u
j
1 −
1
N
.
Then, η <u
j
0
. Since r

is strictly increasing on [a, b], we know that r is
strictly convex. Hence, we get
r

N
¸
i=1
1
N
u
j

= r

1
N
u
j
0
+

1−
1
N

η

<
1
N
r(u
j
0
) +

1−
1
N

r(η)

1
N
r(u
j
0
) +
N
¸
j=1
j=j
0
1
N
r(u
j
)
=
N
¸
j=1
1
N
r(u
j
).
84 CHAPTER 3. SEMIDISCRETE DIFFUSION FILTERING
This shows that equality in (3.13) implies that u
1
= ... = u
N
. By virtue
of the grey level shift invariance we conclude that u = c.
Conversely, it is trivial that Φ(u) = Φ(c) for u = c.
(iv) Let V

(t) = 0. From (3.14) we have
0 = V

(t) =
N
¸
i=1
N−i
¸
k=1
a
i,i+k
(u) (u
i+k
−u
i
)

r

(u
i
)−r

(u
i+k
)

. .. .
≤0
,
and by virtue of the symmetry of A(u) it follows that
a
ij
(u) (u
j
−u
i
)

r

(u
i
)−r

(u
j
)

= 0 ∀ i, j ∈ J. (3.15)
Now consider two arbitrary i
0
, j
0
∈ J. The irreducibility of A(u) implies
that there exist k
0
,...,k
r
∈ J with k
0
= i
0
, k
r
= j
0
, and
a
kpk
p+1
(u) = 0, p = 0, ..., r −1.
As r

is strictly increasing we have, for p = 0,...,r −1,
(u
kp
−u
k
p+1
)

r

(u
k
p+1
)−r

(u
kp
)

= 0 ⇐⇒ u
kp
= u
k
p+1
.
From this and (3.15) we get
u
i
0
= u
k
0
= u
k
1
= ... = u
kr
= u
j
0
.
Since i
0
and j
0
are arbitrary, we obtain u
i
= const. for all i ∈ J,
and the average grey level invariance gives u = c. This proves the first
implication.
Conversely, let u
i
= const. for all i ∈ J. Then from the representation
(3.14) we immediately conclude that V

(t) = 0.
(b) The convergence proof is based on classical Lyapunov reasonings, see e.g.
[180] for an introduction to these techniques.
Consider the Lyapunov function V (t) := Φ(u(t)) := [u(t)−c[
2
, which results
from the choice r(s) := (s−µ)
2
. Since V (t) is decreasing and bounded from
below by 0, we know that lim
t→∞
V (t) =: η exists and η ≥ 0.
Now assume that η > 0.
Since [u(t)−c[ is bounded from above by α := [f −c[ we have
[u(t)−c[ ≤ α ∀ t ≥ 0. (3.16)
By virtue of Φ(x) = [x −c[
2
we know that, for β ∈ (0,

η),
Φ(x) < η ∀ x ∈ IR
N
, [x−c[ < β.
3.3. SCALE-SPACE PROPERTIES 85
Let w.l.o.g. β < α. Since Φ(u(t)) ≥ η we conclude that
[u(t)−c[ ≥ β ∀ t ≥ 0. (3.17)
So from (3.16) and (3.17) we have
u(t) ∈ ¦x ∈ IR
N
[ β ≤ [x−c[ ≤ α¦ =: S ∀ t ≥ 0.
By (a)(ii),(iv), the compactness of S, and β > 0 there exists some M > 0
such that
V

(t) ≤ −M ∀ t ≥ 0.
Therefore, it follows
V (t) = V (0) +

t
0
V

(θ) dθ ≤ V (0) −tM
which implies lim
t→∞
V (t) = −∞ and, thus, contradicts (a)(i).
Hence the assumption η > ρ is wrong and we must have η = ρ.
According to (a)(iii) this yields lim
t→∞
u(t) = c. 2
As in the continuous case, we can consider the Lyapunov functions associated
with r(s) := [s[
p
, r(s) := (s−µ)
2n
and r(s) := s ln s, respectively, and obtain the
following corollary.
Corollary 2 (Special Lyapunov functions).
Let u be the solution of (P
s
) and a and µ be defined as in (3.2) and (3.11). Then
the following functions are decreasing for t ∈ [0, ∞):
(a) |u(t)|
p
for all p ≥ 2.
(b) M
2n
[u(t)] :=
1
N
N
¸
j=1
(u
j
(t) −µ)
2n
for all n ∈ IN.
(c) H[u(t)] :=
N
¸
j=1
u
j
(t) ln(u
j
(t)), if a > 0.
Since all p-norms (p ≥ 2) and all central moments are decreasing, while the
discrete entropy
S[u(t)] := −
N
¸
j=1
u
j
(t) ln(u
j
(t)) (3.18)
is increasing with respect to t, we observe that the semidiscrete setting reveals
smoothing scale-space properties which are closely related to the continuous case.
86 CHAPTER 3. SEMIDISCRETE DIFFUSION FILTERING
3.4 Relation to continuous models
In this section we investigate whether it is possible to use spatial discretizations of
the continuous filter class (P
c
) in order to construct semidiscrete diffusion models
satisfying (S1)–(S5). First we shall verify that this is easily done for isotropic
models. In the anisotropic case, however, the mixed derivative terms make it more
difficult to ensure nonnegative off-diagonal elements. A constructive existence proof
is presented showing that for a sufficiently large stencil it is always possible to find
such a nonnegative discretization. This concept is illustrated by investigating the
situation on a (33)-stencil in detail.
3.4.1 Isotropic case
Let the rectangle Ω = (0, a
1
) (0, a
2
) be discretized by a grid of N = n
1
n
2
pixels
such that a pixel (i, j) with 1≤i ≤n
1
and 1≤j ≤n
2
represents the location (x
i
, y
j
)
where
x
i
:= (i −
1
2
) h
1
, (3.19)
y
j
:= (j −
1
2
) h
2
, (3.20)
and the grid sizes h
1
, h
2
are given by h
1
:= a
1
/n
1
and h
2
:= a
2
/n
2
, respectively.
These pixels can be numbered by means of an arbitrary bijection
p : ¦1, ..., n
1
¦ ¦1, ..., n
2
¦ → ¦1, ..., N¦. (3.21)
Thus, pixel (i, j) is represented by a single index p(i, j).
Let us now verify that a standard FD space discretization of an isotropic variant
of (P
c
) leads to a semidiscrete filter satisfying the requirements (S1)–(S5). To
this end, we may replace the diffusion tensor D(J
ρ
(∇u
σ
)) by some scalar-valued
function g(J
ρ
(∇u
σ
)). The structure tensor requires the calculations of convolutions
with ∇K
σ
and K
ρ
, respectively. In the spatially discrete case this comes down to
specific vector–matrix multiplications. For this reason, we may approximate the
structure tensor by some matrix H(u) = (h
ij
(u)) where H ∈ C

(IR
N
, IR
2×2
).
Next, consider some pixel k = p(i, j). Then a consistent spatial discretization of
the isotropic diffusion equation with homogeneous Neumann boundary conditions
can be written as
du
k
dt
=
2
¸
n=1
¸
l∈Nn(k)
g
l
+g
k
2h
2
l
(u
l
−u
k
), (3.22)
where ^
n
(k) consists of the one or two neighbours of pixel k along the n-th coor-
dinate axis (boundary pixels have only one neighbour) and g
k
:= g ((H(u))
k
).
In vector–matrix notation (3.22) becomes
du
dt
= A(u) u, (3.23)
3.4. RELATION TO CONTINUOUS MODELS 87
where the matrix A(u) = (a
kl
(u))
kl
is given by
a
kl
:=

g
k
+g
l
2h
2
n
(l ∈ ^
n
(k)),

2
¸
n=1
¸
l∈Nn(k)
g
k
+g
l
2h
2
n
(l = k),
0 (else).
(3.24)
Let us now verify that (S1)–(S5) are fulfilled.
Since H ∈ C

(IR
N
, IR
2×2
) and g ∈ C

(IR
2×2
), we have A ∈ C

(IR
N
, IR
N×N
).
This proves (S1).
The symmetry of A follows directly from (3.24) and the symmetry of the neigh-
bourhood relation:
l ∈ ^
n
(k) ⇐⇒ k ∈ ^
n
(l).
By the construction of A it is also evident that all row sums vanish, i.e. (S3)
is satisfied. Moreover, since g is positive, it follows that a
kl
≥ 0 for all k = l and,
thus, (S4) holds.
In order to show that A is irreducible, let us consider two arbitrary pixels k and
l. Then we have to find k
0
,...,k
r
∈ J with k
0
=k and k
r
=l such that a
kqk
q+1
= 0
for q = 0,...,r−1. If k = l, we already know from (3.24) that a
kk
< 0. In this case
we have the trivial path k = k
0
= k
r
= l. For k = l, we may choose any arbitrary
path k
0
,...,k
r
, such that k
q
and k
q+1
are neighbours for q = 0,...,r−1. Then,
a
kqk
q+1
=
g
kq
+g
k
q+1
2h
2
n
> 0
for some n ∈ ¦1, 2¦. This proves (S5).
Remarks:
(a) We observe that (S1)–(S5) are properties which are valid for all arbitrary
pixel numberings.
(b) The filter class (P
c
) is not the only family which leads to semidiscrete fil-
ters satisfying (S1)–(S5). Interestingly, a semidiscrete version of the Perona–
Malik filter – which is to a certain degree ill-posed in the continuous setting
(cf. 1.3.1) – also satisfies (S1)–(S5) and, thus, reveals all the discussed well-
posedness and scale-space properties [425]. This is due to the fact that the
extremum principle limits the modulus of discrete gradient approximations.
Hence, the spatial discretization implicitly causes a regularization. These
results are also in accordance with a recent paper by Pollak et al. [332].
They study an image evolution under an ODE system with a discontinuous
right hand side, which has some interesting relations to the limit case of a
semidiscrete Perona–Malik model. They also report stable behaviour of their
process.
88 CHAPTER 3. SEMIDISCRETE DIFFUSION FILTERING
3.4.2 Anisotropic case
If one wishes to transfer the results from the isotropic case to the general aniso-
tropic setting the main difficulty arises from the fact that, due to the mixed deriva-
tive expressions, it is not obvious how to ensure (S4), the nonnegativity of all off-
diagonal elements of A(u). The theorem below states that this is always possible
for a sufficiently large stencil.
Theorem 6 (Existence of a nonnegative discretization).
Let D ∈ IR
2×2
be symmetric positive definite with a spectral condition number
κ. Then there exists some m(κ) ∈IN such that div (D∇u) reveals a second-order
nonnegative FD discretization on a (2m+1)(2m+1)-stencil.
Proof:
Let us consider some m ∈ IN and the corresponding (2m+1)(2m+1)-stencil. The
“boundary pixels” of this stencil define 4m principal orientations β
i
∈ (−
π
2
,
π
2
],
i = −2m+1, ..., 2m according to
β
i
:=

arctan

ih
2
mh
1

([i[ ≤ m),
arccot

(2m−i)h
1
mh
2

(m < i ≤ 2m),
arccot

(i−2m)h
1
mh
2

(−2m+ 1 ≤ i < −m).
Now let J
m
:= ¦1, ..., 2m−1¦ and define a partition of (−
π
2
,
π
2
] into 4m−2 subin-
tervals I
i
, [i[ ∈J
m
:
(−
π
2
,
π
2
] =
−1
¸
i=−2m+1

i
, θ
i+1
]
. .. .
=:I
i

2m−1
¸
i=1

i−1
, θ
i
]
. .. .
=:I
i
,
where
θ
i
:=

0 (i = 0),
1
2
arctan

2
cot β
i
−tan β
i+1

(i ∈ ¦1, ..., 2m−2¦, β
i

i+1
<
π
2
),
π
4
(i ∈ ¦1, ..., 2m−2¦, β
i

i+1
=
π
2
),
π
2
+
1
2
arctan

2
cot β
i
−tan β
i+1

(i ∈ ¦1, ..., 2m−2¦, β
i

i+1
>
π
2
),
π
2
(i = 2m−1),
and
θ
i
:= −θ
−i
(i ∈ ¦−2m+1, ..., −1¦).
It is not hard to verify that β
i
∈I
i
for [i[ ∈J
m
.
Let λ
1
≥ λ
2
> 0 be the eigenvalues of D with corresponding eigenvectors
(cos ψ, sin ψ)

and (−sin ψ, cos ψ)

, where ψ ∈ (−
π
2
,
π
2
]. Now we show that for
a suitable m there exists a stencil direction β
k
, [k[ ∈ J
m
such that the splitting
div (D∇u) = ∂
e
β
0

α
0

e
β
0
u

+∂
e
β
k

α
k

e
β
k
u

+∂
e
β
2m

α
2m

e
β
2m
u

(3.25)
3.4. RELATION TO CONTINUOUS MODELS 89
with e
β
i
:= (cos β
i
, sin β
i
)

reveals nonnegative “directional diffusivities” α
0
, α
k
,
α
2m
along the stencil orientations β
0
, β
k
, β
2m
. This can be done by proving the
following properties:
(a) Let ψ ∈ I
k
and D =

a
b
b
c

. Then a nonnegative splitting of type (3.25) is
possible if
min

a −b cot β
k
, c −b tan β
k

≥ 0. (3.26)
(b) Inequality (3.26) is satisfied for
λ
1
λ
2
≤ min

cot(ρ
k
−β
k
) tanρ
k
, cot(β
k
−η
k
) cot η
k

=: κ
k,m
(3.27)
with
ρ
k
:=

θ
k
([k[ ∈ ¦1, ..., 2m−2¦),
1
2

k

k
) ([k[ = 2m−1),
η
k
:=

1
2
β
k
([k[ = 1),
θ
k−1
([k[ ∈ ¦2, ..., 2m−1¦).
(c) lim
m→∞

min
|i|∈Jm
κ
i,m

= ∞.
Once these assertions are proved a nonnegative second-order discretization of (3.25)
arises in a natural way, as we shall see at the end of this chapter. So let us now
verify (a)–(c).
(a) In order to use subsequent indices, let ϕ
0
:= 0, ϕ
1
:= β
k
where ψ ∈ I
k
, and
ϕ
2
:=
π
2
. Furthermore, let γ
0
:= α
0
, γ
1
:= α
k
, and γ
2
:= α
2m
. Then (3.25)
requires that
div

a b
b c

∇u

=
2
¸
i=0

∂e
ϕ
i

γ
i
∂u
∂e
ϕ
i

=

∂x
2
¸
i=0
cos ϕ
i

γ
i
(u
x
cos ϕ
i
+u
y
sin ϕ
i
)

+

∂y
2
¸
i=0
sin ϕ
i

γ
i
(u
x
cos ϕ
i
+u
y
sin ϕ
i
)

= div

¸
¸
¸

¸
¸
¸
2
¸
i=0
γ
i
cos
2
ϕ
i
2
¸
i=0
γ
i
sin ϕ
i
cos ϕ
i
2
¸
i=0
γ
i
sin ϕ
i
cos ϕ
i
2
¸
i=0
γ
i
sin
2
ϕ
i
¸

∇u
¸

.
By comparing the coefficients and using the definition of ϕ
0
, ϕ
1
and ϕ
2
we
obtain the linear system

¸
¸
1 cos
2
β
k
0
0 sin β
k
cos β
k
0
0 sin
2
β
k
1
¸

¸
¸
γ
0
γ
1
γ
2
¸

=

¸
¸
a
b
c
¸

90 CHAPTER 3. SEMIDISCRETE DIFFUSION FILTERING
which has the unique solution
γ
0
= a −b cot β
k
, (3.28)
γ
1
=
b
sin β
k
cos β
k
, (3.29)
γ
2
= c −b tanβ
k
. (3.30)
From the structure of the eigenvalues and eigenvectors of D it is easily seen
that
b = (λ
1
−λ
2
) sin ψ cos ψ.
Now, λ
1
−λ
2
≥ 0, and since ψ, β
k
∈ I
k
we conclude that ψ and β
k
belong to
the same quadrant. Thus, γ
1
is always nonnegative. In order to satisfy the
nonnegativity of γ
0
and γ
2
we need that
min

a −b cot β
k
, c −b tan β
k

≥ 0.
(b) Let
λ
1
λ
2
≤ κ
k,m
and consider the case 0 < β
k
<
π
2
. By defining
B(ϕ) := cos
2
ϕ −sin ϕcos ϕcot β
k
,
C(ϕ) := sin
2
ϕ + sin ϕcos ϕcot β
k
we get
λ
1
λ
2
≤ cot(ρ
k
−β
k
) tanρ
k
= −
C(ρ
k
)
B(ρ
k
)
= min
ϕ∈(β
k

k
)


C(ϕ)
B(ϕ)

.
Since B(ϕ) < 0 on (β
k
,
π
2
) we have
λ
1
B(ϕ) + λ
2
C(ϕ) ≥ 0 ∀ ϕ ∈ (β
k
, θ
k
). (3.31)
Because of
B(ϕ) ≥ 0 ∀ ϕ ∈ [−
π
2
, β
k
],
C(ϕ) ≥ 0 ∀ ϕ ∈ [0,
π
2
],
and the continuity of B(ϕ) and C(ϕ) we may extend (3.31) to the entire
interval I
k
= (θ
k−1
, θ
k
]. In particular, since ψ ∈ I
k
, we have
0 ≤ λ
1
B(ψ) + λ
2
C(ψ)
= (λ
1
cos
2
ψ +λ
2
sin
2
ψ) −(λ
1
−λ
2
) sin ψ cos ψ cot β
k
.
By the representation

a b
b c

=

cos ψ −sin ψ
sin ψ cos ψ

λ
1
0
0 λ
2

cos ψ sin ψ
−sin ψ cos ψ

=

λ
1
cos
2
ψ +λ
2
sin
2
ψ (λ
1
−λ
2
) sin ψ cos ψ

1
−λ
2
) sin ψ cos ψ λ
1
sin
2
ψ +λ
2
cos
2
ψ

3.4. RELATION TO CONTINUOUS MODELS 91
we recognize that this is just the desired condition
a −b cot β
k
≥ 0. (3.32)
For the case −
π
2
< β
k
< 0 a similar reasoning can be applied leading also to
(3.32).
In an analogous way one verifies that
λ
1
λ
2
≤ cot(β
k
−η
k
) cot η
k
=⇒ c −b tan β
k
≥ 0.
(c) Let us first consider the case 1 ≤ i ≤ 2m−2. Then, ρ
i
= θ
i
, and the definition
of θ
i
implies that
cot ρ
i
−tan ρ
i
= cot β
i
−tanβ
i+1
.
Solving for cot ρ
i
and tan ρ
i
, respectively, yields
cot ρ
i
=
1
2

cot β
i
−tan β
i+1
+

(cot β
i
−tanβ
i+1
)
2
+ 4

,
tan ρ
i
=
1
2

−cot β
i
+ tanβ
i+1
+

(cot β
i
−tan β
i+1
)
2
+ 4

.
By means of these results we obtain
cot(ρ
i
−β
i
) tan ρ
i
=
cot β
i
+ tanρ
i
cot β
i
−cot ρ
i
= 1 +
2

(cot β
i
+tan β
i+1
)
2
(cot β
i
−tan β
i+1
)
2
+4
−1
.
Let us now assume that 1 ≤ i ≤ m−1. Then we have
tanβ
i+1
=
(i + 1) h
2
mh
1
,
cot β
i
=
mh
1
ih
2
.
This gives
(cot β
i
+ tanβ
i+1
)
2
(cot β
i
−tan β
i+1
)
2
+ 4
=
1
1 −
4m
2
i

m
2
h
1
h
2
+i(i+1)
h
2
h
1

2
=:
1
1 −g
m
(i)
=: f
m
(i).
For m >
1
2
h
2
h
1
the function g
m
(x) is bounded and attains its global maximum
in
x
m
:= −
1
6
+
1
6

1 + 12 m
2
h
2
1
h
2
2
.
92 CHAPTER 3. SEMIDISCRETE DIFFUSION FILTERING
Thus, for 1 ≤ i ≤ m−1,
g
m
(i) ≤ g
m
(x
m
) → 0
+
for m →∞,
which yields
f
m
(i) ≤
1
1 −g
m
(x
m
)
→ 1
+
for m →∞.
This gives
min
1≤i≤m−1

cot(ρ
i
−β
i
) tan ρ
i

≥ 1 +
2

f
m
(x
m
) −1
→ ∞ for m →∞.
For m ≤ i ≤ 2m−2 similar calculations show that by means of
tan β
i+1
=
mh
2
(2m−i−1) h
1
,
cot β
i
=
(2m−i) h
1
mh
2
one obtains
min
m≤i≤2m−2

cot(ρ
i
−β
i
) tan ρ
i

→ ∞ for m →∞.
For i = 2m−1 we have
cot

ρ
2m−1
−β
2m−1

tanρ
2m−1
= cot

π
4

β
2m−1
2

tan

π
4
+
β
2m−1
2

= tan
2

π
4
+
β
2m−1
2

→ ∞ for m →∞.
It is not hard to verify that for −2m + 1 ≤ i ≤ −1 the preceding results
carry over. Hence,
lim
m→∞

min
|i|∈Jm

cot(ρ
i
−β
i
) tanρ
i

= ∞. (3.33)
Now, in a similar way as above, one establishes that
lim
m→∞

min
|i|∈Jm

cot(β
i
−η
i
) cot η
i

= ∞. (3.34)
From (3.33) and (3.34) we finally end up with the assertion
lim
m→∞

min
|i|∈Jm
κ
i,m

= ∞.
2
3.4. RELATION TO CONTINUOUS MODELS 93
Remarks:
(a) We observe that the preceding existence proof is constructive. Moreover,
only three directions are sufficient to guarantee a nonnegative directional
splitting. Thus, unless m is very small, most of the stencil coefficients can be
set to zero.
(b) Especially for large m, a (2m+1)(2m+1)-stencil reveals much more directions
than those 4m that are induced by the 8m “boundary pixels”. Therefore,
even if we use only 3 directions, we may expect to find stricter estimates
than those given in the proof. These estimates might be improved further by
admitting more than 3 directions.
(c) For a specified diffusion tensor function D it is possible to give a-priori es-
timates for the required stencil size: using the extremum principle it is not
hard to show that
[∇u
σ
(x, t)[ = [(∇K
σ
∗u)(x, t)[ ≤
4 |f|
L

(Ω)

2π σ
on
¯
Ω (0, ∞),
where the notations from Chapter 2 have been used. Thanks to the uniform
positive definiteness of D there exists an upper limit for the spectral condition
number of D. This condition limit can be used to fix a suitable stencil size.
(d) The existence of a nonnegative directional splitting distinguishes the filter
class (P
c
) from morphological anisotropic equations such as mean curvature
motion. In this case it has been proved that it is impossible to find a nonneg-
ative directional splitting on a finite stencil [13]. As a remedy, Crandall and
Lions [104] propose to study a convergent sequence of regularizations which
can be approximated on a finite stencil.
Let us now illustrate the ideas in the proof of Theorem 6 by applying them
to a practical example: We want to find a nonnegative spatial discretization of
div (D∇u) on a (33)-stencil, where
D =

a
b
b
c

and a, b and c may be functions of J
ρ
(∇u
σ
).
Since m = 1 we have a partition of (−
π
2
,
π
2
] into 4m−2 = 2 subintervals:
(−
π
2
,
π
2
] = (−
π
2
, 0] ∪ (0,
π
2
] =: I
−1
∪ I
1
.
94 CHAPTER 3. SEMIDISCRETE DIFFUSION FILTERING
I
−1
and I
1
belong to the grid angles
β
−1
= arctan


h
2
h
1

,
β
1
= arctan

h
2
h
1

=: β.
First we focus on the case ψ ∈ I
1
where (cos ψ, sin ψ) denotes the eigenvector to
the larger eigenvalue λ
1
of D. With the notations from the proof of Theorem 6 we
obtain
θ
1
=
π
2
,
ρ
1
=
θ
1

1
2
=
π
4
+
β
2
,
η
1
=
β
2
.
Therefore, we get
cot(ρ
1
−β
1
) tan ρ
1
= cot

π
4

β
2

tan

π
4
+
β
2

=
1 + sin β
1 −sin β
,
cot(β
1
−η
1
) cot η
1
= cot
2

β
2

=
1 + cos β
1 −cos β
,
which restricts the upper condition number for a nonnegative discretization with
ψ ∈ I
1
to
κ
1,1
:= min

1 + sin β
1 −sin β
,
1 + cos β
1 −cos β

. (3.35)
Thanks to the symmetry we obtain the same condition restriction for ψ ∈ I
−1
.
These bounds on the condition number attain their maximal value for h
1
= h
2
. In
this case β =
π
4
gives
κ
1,1
= κ
−1,1
=
1 +
1
2

2
1 −
1
2

2
= 3 + 2

2 ≈ 5.8284. (3.36)
By virtue of (3.28)–(3.30) we obtain as expressions for the directional diffusivities
α
−1
=

[b[ −b

h
2
1
+h
2
2
2h
1
h
2
,
α
0
= a −[b[
h
1
h
2
,
α
1
=

[b[ +b

h
2
1
+h
2
2
2h
1
h
2
,
α
2
= c −[b[
h
2
h
1
.
3.4. RELATION TO CONTINUOUS MODELS 95
This induces in a natural way the following second-order discretization for div (D∇u):
|b
i−1,j+1
|−b
i−1,j+1
4h
1
h
2
+
|b
i,j
|−b
i,j
4h
1
h
2
c
i,j+1
+c
i,j
2h
2
2

|b
i,j+1
|+|b
i,j
|
2h
1
h
2
|b
i+1,j+1
|+b
i+1,j+1
4h
1
h
2
+
|b
i,j
|+b
i,j
4h
1
h
2
a
i−1,j
+a
i,j
2h
2
1

|b
i−1,j
|+|b
i,j
|
2h
1
h
2

a
i−1,j
+2a
i,j
+a
i+1,j
2h
2
1

|b
i−1,j+1
|−b
i−1,j+1
+|b
i+1,j+1
|+b
i+1,j+1
4h
1
h
2

|b
i−1,j−1
|+b
i−1,j−1
+|b
i+1,j−1
|−b
i+1,j−1
4h
1
h
2
+
|b
i−1,j
|+|b
i+1,j
|+|b
i,j−1
|+|b
i,j+1
|+2|b
i,j
|
2h
1
h
2

c
i,j−1
+2c
i,j
+c
i,j+1
2h
2
2
a
i+1,j
+a
i,j
2h
2
1

|b
i+1,j
|+|b
i,j
|
2h
1
h
2
|b
i−1,j−1
|+b
i−1,j−1
4h
1
h
2
+
|b
i,j
|+b
i,j
4h
1
h
2
c
i,j−1
+c
i,j
2h
2
2

|b
i,j−1
|+|b
i,j
|
2h
1
h
2
|b
i+1,j−1
|−b
i+1,j−1
4h
1
h
2
+
|b
i,j
|−b
i,j
4h
1
h
2
All nonvanishing entries of the p-th row of A(u) are represented in this stencil,
where p(i, j) is the index of some inner pixel (i, j). Thus, for instance, the upper
left stencil entry gives the element (p(i, j), p(i−1, j+1)) of A(u). The other nota-
tions should be clear from the context as well, e.g. b
i,j
denotes a finite difference
approximation of b(J
ρ
(∇u
σ
)) at some grid point (x
i
, y
j
).
The problem of finding nonnegative difference approximations to elliptic expres-
sions with mixed derivatives has a long history; see e.g. [294, 120, 170]. Usually it
is studied for the expression
a(x, y) ∂
xx
u + 2b(x, y) ∂
xy
u +c(x, y) ∂
yy
u.
The approach presented here extends these results to

x

a(x, y) ∂
x
u

+∂
x

b(x, y) ∂
y
u

+∂
y

b(x, y) ∂
x
u

+∂
y

c(x, y) ∂
y
u

and establishes the relation between the condition number of

a
b
b
c

and the non-
negativity of the difference operator. Recently Kocan described an interesting al-
ternative to obtain upper bounds for the stencil size as a function of the condition
number [238]. His derivation is based on the diophantine problem of approximating
irrationals by rational numbers.
96 CHAPTER 3. SEMIDISCRETE DIFFUSION FILTERING
Chapter 4
Discrete diffusion filtering
This chapter presents a discrete class of diffusion processes for which one can estab-
lish similar properties as in the semidiscrete case concerning existence, uniqueness,
continuous dependence of the solution on the initial image, maximum-minimum
principle, average grey level invariance, Lyapunov sequences and convergence to a
constant steady-state. We shall see that this class comprises α-semi-implicit dis-
cretizations of the semidiscrete filter class (P
s
) as well as certain variants of them
which are based on an additive operator splitting.
4.1 The general model
As in Chapter 3 we regard a discrete image as a vector f ∈IR
N
, N≥2, and denote
the index set ¦1, ..., N¦ by J. We consider the following discrete filter class (P
d
):
Let f ∈IR
N
. Calculate a sequence (u
(k)
)
k∈IN
0
of processed versions
of f by means of
u
(0)
= f,
u
(k+1)
= Q(u
(k)
) u
(k)
, ∀ k ∈ IN
0
,
where Q = (q
ij
) has the following properties:
(D1) continuity in its argument: Q ∈ C(IR
N
, IR
N×N
),
(D2) symmetry: q
ij
(v) = q
ji
(v) ∀ i, j ∈ J, ∀ v ∈ IR
N
,
(D3) unit row sum:
¸
j∈J
q
ij
(v) = 1 ∀ i ∈ J, ∀ v ∈ IR
N
,
(D4) nonnegativity: q
ij
(v) ≥ 0 ∀ i, j ∈ J, ∀ v ∈ IR
N
,
(D5) irreducibility for all v ∈ IR
N
,
(D6) positive diagonal: q
ii
(v) > 0 ∀ i ∈ J, ∀ v ∈ IR
N
.

(P
d
)
97
98 CHAPTER 4. DISCRETE DIFFUSION FILTERING
Remarks:
(a) Although the basic idea behind scale-spaces is to have a continuous scale
parameter, it is evident that fully discrete results are of importance since, in
practice, scale-space evolutions are evaluated exclusively at a finite number
of scales.
(b) The requirements (D1)–(D5) have a similar meaning as their semidiscrete
counterparts (S1)–(S5). Indeed, (D1) immediately gives well-posedness re-
sults, while the proof of the extremum principle requires (D3) and (D4),
and average grey value invariance is based on (D2) and (D3). The existence
of Lyapunov sequences is a consequence of (D2)–(D4), strict Lyapunov se-
quences need (D5) and (D6) in addition to (D2)–(D4), and the convergence
to a constant steady-state utilizes (D2)–(D5).
(c) Nonnegative matrices Q = (q
ij
) ∈IR
N×N
satisfying
¸
j∈J
q
ij
=1 for all i ∈J
are also called stochastic matrices. Moreover, if Q is stochastic and
¸
i∈J
q
ij
=
1 for all j ∈J, then Q is doubly stochastic. This indicates that our discrete
diffusion processes are related to the theory of Markov chains [370, 223].
4.2 Theoretical results
It is obvious that for a fixed filter belonging to the class (P
d
) every initial image
f ∈ IR
N
generates a unique sequence (u
(k)
)
k∈IN
0
. Moreover, by means of (D1) we
know that, for every finite k, u
(k)
depends continuously on f. Therefore, let us now
prove a maximum–minimum principle.
Proposition 3 (Extremum principle).
Let f ∈IR
N
and let (u
(k)
)
k∈IN
0
be the sequence of filtered images according to (P
d
).
Then,
a ≤ u
(k)
i
≤ b ∀ i ∈ J, ∀ k ∈ IN
0
, (4.1)
where
a := min
j∈J
f
j
, (4.2)
b := max
j∈J
f
j
. (4.3)
Proof:
The maximum–minimum principle follows directly from the fact that, for all i ∈J
and k∈IN
0
, the following inequalities hold:
(i) u
(k+1)
i
=
¸
j∈J
q
ij
(u
(k)
)u
(k)
j
(D4)
≤ max
m∈J
u
(k)
m
¸
j∈J
q
ij
(u
(k)
)
(D3)
= max
m∈J
u
(k)
m
.
4.3. SCALE-SPACE PROPERTIES 99
(ii) u
(k+1)
i
=
¸
j∈J
q
ij
(u
(k)
)u
(k)
j
(D4)
≥ min
m∈J
u
(k)
m
¸
j∈J
q
ij
(u
(k)
)
(D3)
= min
m∈J
u
(k)
m
.
2
4.3 Scale-space properties
All statements from Chapter 3 with respect to invariances are valid in the discrete
framework as well. Below we focus on proving average grey level invariance.
Proposition 4 (Conservation of average grey value).
The average grey level
µ :=
1
N
¸
j∈J
f
j
(4.4)
is not affected by the discrete diffusion filter:
1
N
¸
j∈J
u
(k)
j
= µ ∀ k ∈ IN
0
. (4.5)
Proof:
By virtue of (D2) and (D3) we have
¸
i∈J
q
ij
(u
(k)
)=1 for all j ∈J and k∈IN
0
. This
so-called redistribution property [164] ensures that, for all k ∈ IN
0
,
¸
i∈J
u
(k+1)
i
=
¸
i∈J
¸
j∈J
q
ij
(u
(k)
)u
(k)
j
=
¸
j∈J

¸
i∈J
q
ij
(u
(k)
)

u
(k)
j
=
¸
j∈J
u
(k)
j
,
which proves the proposition. 2
As one might expect, the class (P
d
) allows an interpretation as a transformation
which is smoothing in terms of Lyapunov sequences. These functions ensure that
u
(k)
converges to a constant image as k → ∞. However, we need less regularity
than in the semidiscrete case: The convex function r, which generates the Lyapunov
sequences, needs only to be continuous, but no more differentiable.
Theorem 7 (Lyapunov sequences and behaviour for k →∞).
Assume that (u
(k)
)
k∈IN
0
satisfies the requirements of (P
d
), let a, b, and µ be defined
as in (4.2), (4.3), and (4.4), respectively, and let c := (µ, µ, ..., µ)

∈ IR
N
.
Then the following properties are fulfilled:
(a) (Lyapunov sequences)
For all convex r ∈ C[a, b] the sequence
V
(k)
:= Φ(u
(k)
) :=
¸
i∈J
r(u
(k)
i
), k ∈ IN
0
is a Lyapunov sequence:
100 CHAPTER 4. DISCRETE DIFFUSION FILTERING
(i) Φ(u
(k)
) ≥ Φ(c) ∀ k ∈ IN
0
(ii) V
(k+1)
−V
(k)
≤ 0 ∀ k ∈ IN
0
Moreover, if r is strictly convex, then V
(k)
= Φ(u
(k)
) is a strict Lyapunov
sequence:
(iii) Φ(u
(k)
) = Φ(c) ⇐⇒ u
(k)
= c
(iv) V
(k+1)
−V
(k)
= 0 ⇐⇒ u
(k)
= c
(b) (Convergence)
lim
k→∞
u
(k)
= c.
Proof:
(a) (i) Average grey level invariance and the convexity of r give
Φ(c) =
N
¸
i=1
r

¸
N
¸
j=1
1
N
u
(k)
j
¸


N
¸
i=1

¸
1
N
N
¸
j=1
r(u
(k)
j
)
¸

=
N
¸
j=1
r(u
(k)
j
)
= Φ(u
(k)
). (4.6)
(ii) For i, j ∈ J we define
a
ij
(u
(k)
) :=

q
ij
(u
(k)
) −1 (i = j)
q
ij
(u
(k)
) (i = j).
(4.7)
Using the convexity of r, the preceding definition, and the prerequisites
(D2) and (D3) we obtain
V
(k+1)
−V
(k)
=
N
¸
i=1

¸
r

¸
N
¸
j=1
q
ij
(u
(k)
) u
(k)
j
¸

−r(u
(k)
i
)
¸

conv.

N
¸
i=1

¸
N
¸
j=1
q
ij
(u
(k)
) r(u
(k)
j
) −r(u
(k)
i
)
¸

(4.7)
=
N
¸
i=1
N
¸
j=1
a
ij
(u
(k)
) r(u
(k)
j
)
(D3)
=
N
¸
i=1
N
¸
j=1
a
ij
(u
(k)
)

r(u
(k)
j
) −r(u
(k)
i
)

4.3. SCALE-SPACE PROPERTIES 101
=
N
¸
i=1
N−i
¸
m=1
a
i+m,i
(u
(k)
)

r(u
(k)
i
) −r(u
(k)
i+m
)

+
N
¸
i=1
N−i
¸
m=1
a
i,i+m
(u
(k)
)

r(u
(k)
i+m
) −r(u
(k)
i
)

(D2)
= 0. (4.8)
(iii) This part of the proof can be shown in exactly the same manner as in
the semidiscrete case (Chapter 3, Theorem 5): Equality in the estimate
(4.6) holds due to the strict convexity of r if and only if u
(k)
= c.
(iv) In order to verify the first implication, let us start with a proof that
V
(k+1)
= V
(k)
implies u
(k)
1
= ... = u
(k)
N
. To this end, assume that u
(k)
is
not constant:
u
(k)
i
0
:= min
i∈J
u
(k)
i
< max
j∈J
u
(k)
j
=: u
(k)
j
0
.
Then, by the irreducibility of Q(u
(k)
), we find l
0
, ..., l
r
∈ J with l
0
= i
0
,
l
r
= j
0
and q
lpl
p+1
= 0 for p = 0, ..., r −1. Hence, there exists some
p
0
∈ ¦0, ..., r −1¦ such that n := l
p
0
, m := l
p
0
+1
, q
nm
(u
(k)
) = 0, and
u
(k)
m
= u
(k)
n
. Moreover, the nonnegativity of Q(u
(k)
) gives q
nm
(u
(k)
) > 0,
and by (D6) we have q
nn
(u
(k)
) > 0. Together with the strict convexity
of r these properties lead to
r

¸
N
¸
j=1
q
nj
(u
(k)
) u
(k)
j
¸

= r

¸
¸
N
¸
j=1
j=n,m
q
nj
(u
(k)
) u
(k)
j
+q
nn
(u
(k)
) u
(k)
n
+q
nm
(u
(k)
) u
(k)
m
¸

<
N
¸
j=1
j=n,m
q
nj
(u
(k)
) r(u
(k)
j
) + q
nn
(u
(k)
) r(u
(k)
n
) + q
nm
(u
(k)
) r(u
(k)
m
)
=
N
¸
j=1
q
nj
(u
(k)
) r(u
(k)
j
).
If we combine this with the results in (4.8), we obtain
V
(k+1)
−V
(k)
=
N
¸
i=1
i=n

¸
r

¸
N
¸
j=1
q
ij
(u
(k)
) u
(k)
j
¸

−r(u
(k)
i
)
¸

+ r

¸
N
¸
j=1
q
nj
(u
(k)
) u
(k)
j
¸

−r(u
(k)
n
)
102 CHAPTER 4. DISCRETE DIFFUSION FILTERING
<
N
¸
i=1

¸
N
¸
j=1
q
ij
(u
(k)
) r(u
(k)
j
) −r(u
(k)
i
)
¸

(4.8)
= 0.
This establishes that V
(k+1)
= V
(k)
implies u
(k)
1
= ... = u
(k)
N
. Then, by
virtue of the grey value invariance, we conclude that u
(k)
= c.
Conversely, let u
(k)
= c. By means of prerequisite (D3) we obtain
V
(k+1)
−V
(k)
=
N
¸
i=1
r

¸
N
¸
j=1
q
ij
(u
(k)

¸


N
¸
i=1
r(µ) = 0.
(c) In order to prove convergence to a constant steady-state, we can argue exactly
in the same way as in the semidiscrete case if we replace Lyapunov functions
by Lyapunov sequences and integrals by sums. See Chapter 3, Theorem 5 for
more details. 2
In analogy to the semidiscrete case the preceding theorem comprises many
Lyapunov functions which demonstrate the information-reducing qualities of our
filter class. Choosing the convex functions r(s) := [s[
p
, r(s) := (s −µ)
2n
and
r(s) := s ln s, we immediately obtain the following corollary.
Corollary 3 (Special Lyapunov sequences).
Let (u
(k)
)
k∈IN
0
be a diffusion sequence according to (P
d
), and let a and µ be defined
as in (4.2) and (4.4). Then the following functions are decreasing in k:
(a) |u
(k)
|
p
for all p ≥ 1.
(b) M
2n
[u
(k)
] :=
1
N
N
¸
j=1
(u
(k)
j
−µ)
2n
for all n ∈ IN.
(c) H[u
(k)
] :=
N
¸
j=1
u
(k)
j
ln(u
(k)
j
), if a > 0.
An interpretation of these results in terms of decreasing energy, decreasing
central moments and increasing entropy is evident.
4.4 Relation to semidiscrete models
4.4.1 Semi-implicit schemes
Let us now investigate in which sense our discrete filter class covers in a natural
way time discretizations of semidiscrete filters. To this end, we regard u
(k)
as an
4.4. RELATION TO SEMIDISCRETE MODELS 103
approximation of the solution u of (P
s
) at time t = kτ, where τ denotes the time
step size. We consider a finite difference scheme with two time levels where the
operator A – which depends nonlinearly on u – is evaluated in an explicit way,
while the linear remainder is discretized in an α-implicit manner. Such schemes
are called α-semi-implicit. They reveal the advantage that the linear implicit part
ensures good stability properties, while the explicit evaluation of the nonlinear
terms avoids the necessity to solve nonlinear systems of equations. The theorem
below states that this class of schemes is covered by the discrete framework, for
which we have established scale-space results.
Theorem 8 (Scale-space interpretation for α-semi-implicit schemes).
Let α ∈ [0, 1], τ > 0, and let A = (a
ij
) : IR
N
→ IR
N×N
satisfy the requirements
(S1)–(S5) of section 3.1. Then the α-semi-implicit scheme
u
(k+1)
−u
(k)
τ
= A(u
(k)
)

αu
(k+1)
+ (1−α)u
(k)

(4.9)
fulfils the prerequisites (D1)–(D6) for discrete diffusion models provided that
τ ≤
1
(1−α) max
i∈J
[a
ii
(u
(k)
)[
(4.10)
for α ∈ (0, 1). In the explicit case (α=0) the properties (D1)–(D6) hold for
τ <
1
max
i∈J
[a
ii
(u
(k)
)[
, (4.11)
and the semi-implicit case (α=1) satisfies (D1)–(D6) unconditionally.
Proof: Let
B(u
(k)
) := (b
ij
(u
(k)
)) := I −ατA(u
(k)
),
C(u
(k)
) := (c
ij
(u
(k)
)) := I + (1−α)τA(u
(k)
),
where I ∈IR
N
denotes the unit matrix. Since (4.9) can be written as
B(u
(k)
) u
(k+1)
= C(u
(k)
) u
(k)
we first have to show that B(u
(k)
) is invertible for all u
(k)
∈ IR
N
. Henceforth, the
argument u
(k)
is suppressed frequently since the considerations below are valid for
all u
(k)
∈ IR
N
.
If α=0, then B=I and hence invertible. Now assume that α > 0. Then B is
strictly diagonally dominant, since
b
ii
= 1 −ατa
ii
(S3)
= 1 +ατ
¸
j∈J
j=i
a
ij
> ατ
¸
j∈J
j=i
a
ij
(S4)
=
¸
j∈J
j=i
[b
ij
[ ∀ i ∈ J.
104 CHAPTER 4. DISCRETE DIFFUSION FILTERING
This also shows that b
ii
> 0 for all i ∈ J, and by the structure of the off-diagonal
elements of B we observe that the irreducibility of A implies the irreducibility of
B. Thanks to the fact that B is irreducibly diagonally dominant, b
ij
≤ 0 for all
i = j, and b
ii
> 0 for all i ∈ J, we know from [407, p. 85] that B
−1
=: H =: (h
ij
)
exists and h
ij
> 0 for all i, j ∈ J. Thus, Q := (q
ij
) := B
−1
C exists and by (S1) it
follows that Q ∈ C(IR
N
, IR
N×N
). This proves (D1).
The requirement (D2) is not hard to satisfy: Since B
−1
and C are symmetric
and reveal the same set of eigenvectors – namely those of A – it follows that
Q = B
−1
C is symmetric as well.
Let us now verify (D3). By means of (S3) we obtain
¸
j∈J
b
ij
= 1 =
¸
j∈J
c
ij
∀ i ∈ J. (4.12)
Let v := (1, ..., 1)

∈ IR
N
. Then (4.12) is equivalent to
Bv = v = Cv, (4.13)
and the invertibility of B gives
v = B
−1
v = Hv. (4.14)
Therefore, from
Qv = HCv
(4.13)
= Hv
(4.14)
= v
we conclude that
¸
j∈J
q
ij
= 1 for all i ∈ J. This proves (D3).
In order to show that (D4) is fulfilled, we first check the nonnegativity of C.
For i = j we have
c
ij
= (1−α)τa
ij
(S4)
≥ 0.
The diagonal entries yield
c
ii
= 1 + (1−α)τa
ii
.
If α = 1 we have c
ii
= 1 for all i ∈ J. For 0 ≤ α < 1, however, nonnegativity of C
is not automatically guaranteed: Using (S3)–(S5) we obtain
a
ii
(S3)
= −
¸
j∈J
j=i
a
ij
(S4),(S5)
< 0 ∀ i ∈ J. (4.15)
Hence, C(u
(k)
) is nonnegative if
τ ≤
1
(1−α) max
i∈J
[a
ii
(u
(k)
)[
=: τ
α
(u
(k)
).
4.4. RELATION TO SEMIDISCRETE MODELS 105
Since H is nonnegative, we know that the nonnegativity of C implies the nonneg-
ativity of Q=HC.
Now we want to prove (D5). If α = 1, then C = I, and by the positivity of H
we have q
ij
> 0 for all i, j ∈ J. Thus, Q is irreducible.
Next let us consider the case 0 <α <1 and τ ≤τ
α
(u
(k)
). Then we know that
C is nonnegative. Using this information, the positivity of H, the symmetry of C,
and (4.12) we obtain
q
ij
=
¸
k∈J
h
ik
c
kj
≥ min
k∈J
h
ik
. .. .
>0

¸
k∈J
c
kj
. .. .
=1
> 0 ∀ i, j ∈ J,
which establishes the irreducibility of Q.
Finally, for α = 0, we have Q = C. For i, j ∈ J with i = j we know that
a
ij
(u
(k)
) > 0 implies c
ij
(u
(k)
) > 0. Now for
τ <
1
max
i∈J
[a
ii
(u
(k)
)[
it follows that c
ii
(u
(k)
) > 0 for all i ∈ J and, thus, the irreducibility of A(u
(k)
)
carries over to Q(u
(k)
).
In all the abovementioned cases the time step size restrictions for ensuring irre-
ducibility imply that all diagonal elements of Q(u
(k)
) are positive. This establishes
(D6). 2
Remarks:
(a) We have seen that the discrete filter class (P
d
) – although at first glance
looking like a pure explicit discretization – covers the α-semi-implicit case as
well. Explicit two-level schemes are comprised by the choice α=0. Equation
(4.11) shows that they reveal the most prohibitive time step size restrictions.
(b) The conditions (4.10) and (4.11) can be satisfied by means of an a-priori
estimate. Since the semi-implicit scheme fulfils (D1)–(D6) we know by The-
orem 3 that the solution obeys an extremum principle. This means that u
(k)
belongs to the compact set ¦v ∈ IR
N

|v|

≤ |f|

¦ for all k ∈ IN
0
. By
A∈C(IR
N
, IR
N×N
) it follows that
K
f
:= max

[a
ii
(v)[

i ∈ J, v ∈ IR
N
, |v|

≤ |f|

¸
exists, and (4.15) shows that K
f
> 0. Thus, choosing
τ ≤
1
(1−α) K
f
106 CHAPTER 4. DISCRETE DIFFUSION FILTERING
ensures that (4.10) is always satisfied, and
τ <
1
K
f
guarantees that (4.11) holds.
(c) If α>0, a large linear system of equations has to be solved. Its system matrix
is symmetric, diagonally dominant, and positive definite. Usually, it is also
sparse: For instance, if it results from a finite difference discretization on a
(2p+1)(2p+1)-stencil it contains at most 4p
2
+4p+1 nonvanishing entries
per row. One should not expect, however, that in the i-th row these entries
can be found within the positions [i, i−2p
2
−2p] to [i, i+2p
2
+2p]. In general,
the matrix reveals a much larger bandwidth.
Applying standard direct algorithms such as Gaussian elimination would
destroy the zeros within the band and would lead to an immense storage and
computation effort. Modifications in order to reduce these problems [122] are
quite difficult to implement.
Iterative algorithms appear to be better suited. Classical methods such as
Gauß–Seidel or SOR [447] are easy to code, they do not need additional
storage, and their convergence can be guaranteed for the special structure of
A. Unfortunately, they converge rather slowly. Faster iterative methods such
as preconditioned conjugate gradient algorithms [348] need significantly more
storage, which can become prohibitive for large images. A typical problem of
iterative methods is that their convergence slows down for larger τ, since this
increases the condition number of the system matrix. Multigrid methods [59,
179] are one possibility to circumvent these difficulties; another possibility
will be studied in Section 4.4.2.
(d) For α = 1 we obtain semi-implicit schemes which do not suffer from time
step size restrictions. In spite of the fact that the nonlinearity is discretized
in an explicit way they are absolutely stable in the maximum norm, and
they inherit the scale-space properties from the semidiscrete setting regard-
less of the step size. Compared to explicit schemes, this advantage usually
overcompensates for the additional effort of resolving a linear system.
(e) By the explicit discretization of the nonlinear operator A it follows that all
schemes in the preceding theorem are of first order in time. This should not
give rise to concern, since in image processing one is in general more inter-
ested in maintaining qualitative properties such as maximum principles or
invariances rather than having an accurate approximation of the continu-
ous equation. However, if one insists in second-order schemes, one may for
4.4. RELATION TO SEMIDISCRETE MODELS 107
instance use the predictor–corrector approach by Douglas and Jones [121]:
u
(k+1/2)
−u
(k)
τ/2
= A(u
(k)
) u
(k+1/2)
,
u
(k+1)
−u
(k)
τ
= A(u
(k+1/2)
)

1
2
u
(k+1)
+
1
2
u
(k)

.
This scheme satisfies the properties (D1)–(D6) for τ ≤ 2/K
f
.
(f) The assumptions (S1)–(S5) are sufficient conditions for the α-semi-implicit
scheme to fulfil (D1)–(D6), but they are not necessary. Nonnegativity of
Q(u
(k)
) may also be achieved using spatial discretizations where A(u
(k)
) has
negative off-diagonal elements (see [55] for examples).
4.4.2 AOS schemes
We have seen that, for α > 0, the preceding α-semi-implicit schemes require to
solve a linear system with the system matrix (I − ατA(u
(k)
)). Since this can be
numerically expensive, it would be nice to have an efficient alternative. Suppose
we know a splitting
A(u
(k)
) =
m
¸
l=1
A
l
(u
(k)
), (4.16)
such that the m linear systems with system matrices (I −mατA
l
(u
(k)
)), l = 1,...,m
can be solved more efficiently. Then it is advantageous to study instead of the α-
semi-implicit scheme
u
(k+1)
=

I −ατ
m
¸
l=1
A
l
(u
(k)
)

−1

I + (1−α)τ
m
¸
l=1
A
l
(u
(k)
)

u
(k)
(4.17)
its additive operator splitting (AOS) variant [424]
u
(k+1)
=
1
m
m
¸
l=1

I −αmτA
l
(u
(k)
)

−1

I + (1−α)mτA
l
(u
(k)
)

u
(k)
. (4.18)
By means of a Taylor expansion one can verify that, although both schemes are not
identical, they have the same approximation order in space and time. Hence, from
a numerical viewpoint, they are both consistent approximations to the semidiscrete
ODE system from (P
s
).
The following theorem clarifies the conditions under which AOS schemes create
discrete scale-spaces.
108 CHAPTER 4. DISCRETE DIFFUSION FILTERING
Theorem 9 (Scale-space interpretation for AOS schemes).
Let α ∈ (0, 1], τ >0, and let A
l
= (a
ijl
)
ij
: IR
N
→ IR
N×N
, l = 1,...,m satisfy the
requirements (S1)–(S4) of section 3.1. Moreover, assume that A(u) =
¸
m
l=1
A
l
(u)
is irreducible for all u ∈ IR
N
, and that for each A
l
there exists a permutation
matrix P
l
∈ IR
N×N
such that P
l
A
l
P
T
l
is block diagonal and irreducible within each
block. Then the following holds:
For α ∈ (0, 1), the AOS scheme (4.18) fulfils the prerequisites (D1)–(D6) of
discrete diffusion scale-spaces provided that
τ <
1
(1−α) m max
i,l
[a
iil
(u
(k)
)[
. (4.19)
In the semi-implicit case (α = 1), the properties (D1)–(D6) are unconditionally
satisfied.
Proof: The reasoning is similar to the proof of Theorem 8. Let
B
l
(u
(k)
) := (b
ijl
(u
(k)
))
ij
:= I −αmτA
l
(u
(k)
),
C
l
(u
(k)
) := (c
ijl
(u
(k)
))
ij
:= I + (1−α)mτA
l
(u
(k)
).
B
l
is invertible because of its strict diagonal dominance:
b
iil
(S3)
= 1 +αmτ
¸
j∈J
j=i
a
ijl
> αmτ
¸
j∈J
j=i
a
ijl
(S4)
=
¸
j∈J
j=i
[b
ijl
[ ∀ i ∈ J.
Since A
l
(u) is continuous in u by virtue of (S1), it follows that
Q(u) :=
1
m
m
¸
l=1
B
−1
l
(u) C
l
(u)
is also continuous in u. This proves (D1).
The symmetry property (D2) of Q results directly from the fact that B
−1
l
and
C
l
are symmetric and share their eigenvectors with those of A
l
.
In the same way as in the proof of Theorem 8 one shows that B
−1
l
C
l
has only
unit row sums for all l. Thus, the row sums of Q are 1 as well, and (D3) is satisfied.
To verify (D4), we utilize that B
l
is strictly diagonally dominant, b
iil
> 0 for
all i, and b
ijl
≤ 0 for i = j. Under these circumstances it follows from [284, p. 192]
that H
l
:= B
−1
l
is nonnegative in all components. Thus, a sufficient condition for
proving (D4) is to ensure that C
l
is nonnegative for all l. For i = j we have
c
ijl
= (1−α)mτa
ijl
(S4)
≥ 0.
4.4. RELATION TO SEMIDISCRETE MODELS 109
The diagonal entries yield
c
iil
= 1 + (1−α)mτa
iil
.
If α = 1 we have c
ii
= 1 for all i ∈ J. For 0 < α < 1, however, nonnegativity of
C is not automatically guaranteed: Since A
l
satisfies (S3) and (S4), we know that
a
iil
≤ 0, for all i. Moreover, by (4.15) it follows that for every i there exists an l
with a
iil
< 0. Thus, requiring
τ <
1
(1−α) m max
i,l
[a
iil
(u
(k)
)[
=: τ
α
(u
(k)
)
guarantees that
c
iil
> 0 ∀ i ∈ J, ∀ l = 1, ..., m. (4.20)
Next we prove (D5), the irreducibility of Q. Suppose that a
i
0
j
0
= 0 for some
i
0
, j
0
∈ J. Then there exists an l
0
∈ ¦1, ..., m¦ such that a
i
0
j
0
l
0
= 0. Denoting B
−1
l
by H
l
= (h
ijl
)
ij
, we show now that a
i
0
j
0
l
0
= 0 implies h
i
0
j
0
l
0
> 0.
This can be seen as follows: There exist permutation matrices P
l
, l = 1, ..., m
such that P
l
B
l
P
T
l
is block diagonal. Each block is irreducible and strictly diagonally
dominant with a positive diagonal and nonpositive off-diagonals. Thus, a theorem
by Varga [407, p. 85] ensures that the inverse of each block contains only positive
elements. As a consequence, a
i
0
j
0
l
0
= 0 implies h
i
0
j
0
l
0
> 0.
Together with (4.20) this yields
q
i
0
j
0
=
1
m

¸
¸
¸
(l,n)=(l
0
,j
0
)
h
i
0
nl
. .. .
≥0
c
nj
0
l
. .. .
≥0
+ h
i
0
j
0
l
0
. .. .
>0
c
j
0
j
0
l
0
. .. .
>0
¸

> 0.
Recapitulating, this means that, for τ < τ
α
(u
(k)
),
a
i
0
j
0
= 0 =⇒ q
i
0
j
0
> 0. (4.21)
Thus, the irreducibility of A carries over to Q, and (D5) is proved.
Moreover, (4.21) also proves (D6): By virtue of (4.15) we have a
ii
< 0 for all
i ∈ J. Therefore, Q must have a positive diagonal. 2
Remarks:
(a) In analogy to the unsplit α-semi-implicit schemes, the case α = 1 is especially
interesting, because no time step size restriction occurs. Again, it is also
possible to construct a predictor–corrector scheme of Douglas–Jones type
[121] within the AOS framework:
u
(k+1/2)
=
1
m
m
¸
l=1

I −
1
2
mτA
l
(u
(k)
)

−1
u
(k)
,
u
(k+1)
=
1
m
m
¸
l=1

I −
1
2
mτA
l
(u
(k+1/2)
)

−1

I +
1
2
mτA
l
(u
(k+1/2)
)

u
(k)
.
110 CHAPTER 4. DISCRETE DIFFUSION FILTERING
It satisfies (D1)–(D6) for τ < 2/K
f
, where K
f
is determined by the a-priori
estimate
K
f
:= m max

[a
iil
(v)[

i ∈ J, l ∈ ¦1, ..., m¦, v ∈ IR
N
, |v|

≤ |f|

¸
.
However, the AOS–Douglas–Jones scheme is only first order accurate in time.
(b) The fact that AOS schemes use an additive splitting ensures that all coordi-
nate axes are treated in exactly the same manner. This is in contrast to the
various conventional splitting techniques from the literature [120, 277, 286,
354, 442]. They are multiplicative splittings. A typical representative is
u
(k+1)
=
m
¸
l=1

I −τA
l
(u
(k)
)

−1
u
(k)
.
Since in the general nonlinear case the split operators A
l
, l = 1,..., m do not
commute, the result of multiplicative splittings will depend on the order of
the operators. In practice, this means that these schemes produce different
results if the image is rotated by 90 degrees. Moreover, most multiplicative
splittings lead to a nonsymmetric matrix Q(u
(k)
). This violates requirement
(D2) for discrete scale-spaces.
(c) The result u
(k+1)
of an AOS scheme can be regarded as the average of m
filters of type
v
(k+1)
l
:=

I −αmτA
l
(u
(k)
)

−1

I +(1−α)mτA
l
(u
(k)
)

u
(k)
(l = 1, ..., m).
Since v
(k+1)
l
, l = 1,...,m can be calculated independently from each other, it
is possible to distribute their computation to different processors of a parallel
machine.
(d) AOS schemes with α =1 have been presented in [424, 430] as efficient dis-
cretizations of the isotropic nonlinear diffusion filter of Catt´e et al. [81]. In
Section 1.3.2 we have seen that this filter is based on the PDE

t
u = div (g([∇u
σ
[
2
) ∇u).
In this case, a natural operator splitting A =
¸
m
l=1
A
l
results from a decom-
position of the divergence expression into one-dimensional terms of type

x
l
(g([∇u
σ
[
2
) ∂
x
l
u) (l = 1, ..., m).
This separation is very efficient: There exist permutation matrices P
l
(pixel
orderings) such that P
l
A
l
P
T
l
is block diagonal and each block is diagonally
dominant and tridiagonal. Hence, the corresponding linear systems can be
4.4. RELATION TO SEMIDISCRETE MODELS 111
solved in linear effort by means of a simple Gaussian algorithm. The resulting
forward substitution and backward elimination can be regarded as a recursive
filter.
A parallel implementation assigning these tridiagonal subsystems to different
processors is described in [431]. The denoising of a medical 3-D ultrasound
data set with 138 208 138 voxels on an SGI Power Challenge XL with
eight 195 MHz R10000 processors was possible in less than 1 minute.
(e) The idea to base AOS schemes on decompositions into one-dimensional op-
erators can also be generalized to anisotropic diffusion filters: Consider for
instance the discretization on a (3 3)-stencil at the end of Section 3.4.2. If
it fulfils (S1)–(S5), then a splitting of such a 2-D filter into 4 one-dimensional
diffusion processes acting along the 4 stencil directions satisfies all prerequi-
sites of Theorem 9.
112 CHAPTER 4. DISCRETE DIFFUSION FILTERING
Chapter 5
Examples and applications
The scale-space theory from Chapters 2–4 also covers methods such as linear or
nonlinear isotropic diffusion filtering, for which many interesting applications have
already been mentioned in Chapter 1. Therefore, the goal of the present chapter is
to show that a generalization to anisotropic models with diffusion tensors depend-
ing on the structure tensor offers novel properties and application fields. Thus, we
focus mainly on these anisotropic techniques and juxtapose the results to other
methods. In order to demonstrate the flexibility of anisotropic diffusion filtering,
we shall pursue two different objectives:
• smoothing with simultaneous edge-enhancement,
• smoothing with enhancement of coherent flow-like textures.
All calculations for diffusion filtering are performed using semi-implicit FD
schemes with time steps ∆t ∈ [2, 5]. In order to compare anisotropic diffusion to
other methods, morphological scale-spaces and modifications of them have been
discretized as well. For MCM and AMSS this is achieved by means of explicit FD
schemes (cf. 1.6.4) with ∆t := 0.1 and ∆t := 0.01, respectively. Dilation with a flat
structuring element is approximated by an Osher-Sethian scheme of type (1.88)
with ∆t := 0.5, and dilation with a quadratic structuring function is performed
in a noniterative way using van den Boomgaard’s algorithm from [51]. On an
HP 9000/889 workstation it takes less than 0.3 CPU seconds to calculate one
nonlinear diffusion step for a 256 256 image, and MCM, AMSS or dilation with
a disc require approximately 0.06 seconds per iteration. Typical dilations with a
quadratic structuring function take less than 0.3 seconds.
113
114 CHAPTER 5. EXAMPLES AND APPLICATIONS
5.1 Edge-enhancing diffusion
5.1.1 Filter design
In accordance with the notations in 2.2, let µ
1
, µ
2
with µ
1
≥ µ
2
be the eigenvalues
of the structure tensor J
ρ
, and v
1
, v
2
the corresponding orthonormal eigenvectors.
Since the diffusion tensor should reflect the local image structure it ought to be
chosen in such a way that it reveals the same set of eigenvectors v
1
, v
2
as J
ρ
. The
choice of the corresponding eigenvalues λ
1
, λ
2
depends on the desired goal of the
filter.
If one wants to smooth preferably within each region and aims to inhibit dif-
fusion across edges, then one can reduce the diffusivity λ
1
perpendicular to edges
the more the higher the contrast µ
1
is, see 1.3.3 and [415]. This behaviour may be
accomplished by the following choice (m ∈ IN, C
m
> 0, λ > 0):
λ
1

1
) := g(µ
1
), (5.1)
λ
2
:= 1 (5.2)
with
g(s) :=

1 (s ≤ 0)
1 −exp

−Cm
(s/λ)
m

(s > 0).
(5.3)
This exponentially decreasing function is chosen in order to fulfil the smoothness
requirement stated in (P
c
), cf. 2.3. Since ∇u
σ
remains bounded on Ω[0, ∞) and
µ
1
= [∇u
σ
[
2
, we know that the uniform positive definiteness of D is automatically
satisfied by this filter.
The constant C
m
is calculated in such a way that the flux Φ(s) = sg(s) is
increasing for s ∈ [0, λ] and decreasing for s ∈ (λ, ∞). Thus, the preceding filter
strategy can be regarded as an anisotropic regularization of the Perona–Malik
model.
The choice m := 4 (which implies C
4
= 3.31488) gives visually good results
and is used exclusively in the examples below. Since in this section we are only
interested in edge-enhancing diffusion we may set the integration scale ρ of the
structure tensor equal to 0. Applications which require nonvanishing integration
scales shall be studied in section 5.2.
5.1.2 Applications
Figure 5.1 illustrates that anisotropic diffusion filtering is still capable of possessing
the contrast-enhancing properties of the Perona–Malik filter (provided the regu-
larization parameter σ is not too large). It depicts the temporal evolution of a
5.1. EDGE-ENHANCING DIFFUSION 115
Figure 5.1: Anisotropic diffusion filtering of a Gaussian-type function,
Ω = (0, 256)
2
, λ = 3.6, σ = 2. From top left to bottom right: t = 0,
125, 625, 3125, 15625, 78125.
116 CHAPTER 5. EXAMPLES AND APPLICATIONS
Gaussian-like function and its isolines.
1
It can be observed that two regions with
almost constant grey value evolve which are separated by a fairly steep edge. Edge
enhancement is caused by the fact that, due to the rapidly decreasing diffusivity,
smoothing within each region is strongly preferred to diffusion between the two
adjacent regions. The edge location remains stable over a very long time interval.
This indicates that, in practice, the determination of a suitable stopping time is
not a critical problem. After the process of contrast enhancement is concluded, the
steepness of edges decreases very slowly until the gradient reaches a value where no
backward diffusion is possible anymore. Then the image converges quickly towards
a constant image.
Let us now compare the denoising properties of different diffusion filters. Figure
5.2(a) consists of a triangle and a rectangle with 70 % of all pixels being completely
degraded by noise. This image is taken from the software package MegaWave.
Test images of this type have been used to study the behaviour of filters such
as [13, 15, 16, 99, 102]. In Fig. 5.2(b) we observe that linear diffusion filtering
is capable of removing all noise, but we have to pay a price: the image becomes
completely blurred. Besides the fact that edges get smoothed so that they are
harder to identify, the correspondence problem appears: edges become dislocated.
Thus, once they are identified at a coarse scale, they have to be traced back in
order to find their true location, a theoretically and practically rather difficult
problem.
Fig. 5.2(c) shows the effect when applying the isotropic nonlinear diffusion
equation [81]

t
u = div (g([∇u
σ
[
2
)∇u) (5.4)
with g as in (5.3). Since edges are hardly affected by this process, nonlinear
isotropic diffusion does not lead to correspondence problems which are charac-
teristic for linear filtering. On the other hand, the drastically reduced diffusivity
at edges is also responsible for the drawback that noise at edges is preserved.
Figure 5.2(d) demonstrates that nonlinear anisotropic filtering shares the ad-
vantages of both methods. It combines the good noise eliminating properties of
linear diffusion with the stable edge structure of nonlinear isotropic filtering. Due
to the permitted smoothing along edges, however, corners get more rounded than
in the nonlinear isotropic case.
The scale-space behaviour of different PDE-based methods is juxtaposed in
Figures 5.3–5.6, where an MRI slice of a human head is processed [414, 423].
1
Except for Figs. 5.1, 5.3–5.6, where contrast enhancement is to be demonstrated, all images
in the present work are depicted in such a way that the lowest value is black and the highest one
appears white. They reveal a range within the interval [0, 255] and all pixels have unit length in
both directions.
5.1. EDGE-ENHANCING DIFFUSION 117
Figure 5.2: Restoration properties of diffusion filters. (a) Top Left:
Test image, Ω = (0, 128)
2
. (b) Top Right: Linear diffusion, t = 80.
(c) Bottom Left: Nonlinear isotropic diffusion, λ = 3.5, σ = 3,
t = 80. (d) Bottom Right: Nonlinear anisotropic diffusion, λ = 3.5,
σ = 3, t = 80.
Again we observe that linear diffusion (Fig. 5.3(a)) does not only blur all struc-
tures in an equal amount but also dislocates them more and more with increasing
scale.
A first step to reduce these problems is to adapt the diffusivity to the gradient
of the initial image f [147]. Fig. 5.3(b) shows the evolution under

t
u = div (g([∇f[
2
) ∇u), (5.5)
118 CHAPTER 5. EXAMPLES AND APPLICATIONS
where a diffusivity of type [88]
g([∇f[
2
) :=
1

1 +[∇f[
2

2
(λ > 0). (5.6)
is used. Compared with homogeneous linear diffusion, edges remain better localized
and their blurring is reduced. On the other hand, for large t the filtered image
reveals some artifacts which reflect the differential structure of the initial image.
A natural idea to reduce the artifacts of inhomogeneous linear diffusion filtering
would be to introduce a feedback in the process by adapting the diffusivity g to
the gradient of the actual image u(x, t) instead of the original image f(x). This
leads to the nonlinear diffusion equation [326]

t
u = div (g([∇u[
2
) ∇u). (5.7)
Figure 5.3(c) shows how such a nonlinear feedback is useful to increase the edge
localization in a significant way: Structures remain well-localized as long as they
can be recognized. Also blurring at edges is reduced very much. The absolute
contrast at edges, however, becomes smaller.
The latter problem can be avoided using a diffusivity which decreases faster
than (5.6) and leads to a nonmonotone flux function. This is illustrated in Figure
5.4(a) where the regularized isotropic nonlinear diffusion filter (5.4) with the diffu-
sivity (5.3) is applied. At the chin we observe that this equation is indeed capable
of enhancing edges. All structures are extremely well-localized and the results are
segmentation-like. On the other hand, also small structures exist over a long range
of scales if they differ from their vicinity by a sufficiently large contrast. One can
try to make this filter faster and more insensitive to small-size structures by in-
creasing the regularizing Gaussian kernel size σ (cf. Fig. 5.4(b)), but this also leads
to stronger blurring of large structures, and it is no longer possible to enhance the
contour of the entire head.
Anisotropic nonlinear diffusion (Fig. 5.4(c)) permits diffusion along edges and
inhibits smoothing across them. As in Figure 5.2(d), this causes a stronger round-
ing of structures, which can be seen at the nose. A positive consequence of this
slight shrinking effect is the fact that small or elongated and thin structures are
better eliminated than in the isotropic case. Thus, we recognize that most of the
depicted “segments” coincide with semantically correct objects that one would ex-
pect at these scales. Finally the image turns into a silhouette of the head, before
it converges to a constant image.
The tendency to produce piecewise almost constant regions indicates that dif-
fusion scale-spaces with nonmonotone flux are ideal preprocessing tools for seg-
mentation. Unlike diffusion–reaction models aiming to yield one segmentation-like
result for t → ∞ (cf. 1.4), the temporal evolution of these models generates a
5.1. EDGE-ENHANCING DIFFUSION 119
complete hierarchical family of segmentation-like images. The contrast-enhancing
quality distinguishes nonlinear diffusion filters from most other scale-spaces. It
should be noted that contrast enhancement is a local phenomenon which cannot
be replaced by simple global rescalings of the grey value range. Therefore, it is
generally not possible to obtain similar segmentation-like results by just rescaling
the grey values from a scale-space which is only contrast-reducing.
The contrast and noise parameters λ and σ give the user the liberty to adapt
nonlinear diffusion scale-spaces to the desired purpose in order to reward inter-
esting features with a longer lifetime. Suitable values for them should result in a
natural way from the specific problem. In this sense, the time t is rather a para-
meter of importance, with respect to the specified task, than a descriptor of spatial
scale. The traditional opinion that the evolution parameter t of scale-spaces should
be related to the spatial scale reflects the assumption that a scale-space analysis
should be uncommitted. Nonlinear diffusion filtering renounces this requirement by
allowing to incorporate a-priori information (e.g. about the contrast of semantically
important structures) into the evolution process. The basic idea of scale-spaces,
however, is maintained: to provide a family of subsequently simplified versions of
the original image, which gives a hierarchy of structures and allows to extract the
relevant information from a certain scale.
Besides these specific features of nonlinear diffusion scale-spaces it should be
mentioned that, due to the homogeneous Neumann boundary condition and the
divergence form, both linear and nonlinear diffusion filters preserve the average
grey level of the image.
This is not true for the morphological filters and their modifications which are
depicted in Fig. 5.5 and 5.6.
Figure 5.5(a) and (b) show the result under continuous-scale dilation with a flat
disc-shaped structuring element and a quadratic structuring function, respectively.
From Section 1.5.3 and 1.5.6 we know that their evolution equations are given by

t
u = [∇u[, (5.8)
for the disc, and by

t
u = [∇u[
2
(5.9)
for the quadratic structuring function. In both cases the number of local maxima
is decreasing, and maxima keep their location in scale-space until they disappear
[206, 207]. The fact that the maximum with the largest grey value will dominate
at the end shows that these processes can be sensitive to noise (maxima might
be caused by noise), and that they usually do not preserve the average grey level.
It is not very difficult to guess the shape of the structuring function from the
scale-space evolution.
120 CHAPTER 5. EXAMPLES AND APPLICATIONS
Figure 5.3: Evolution of an MRI slice under different PDEs. Top: Original im-
age, Ω = (0, 236)
2
. (a) Left Column: Linear diffusion, top to bottom: t = 0,
12.5, 50, 200. (b) Middle Column: Inhomogeneous linear diffusion (λ = 8),
t = 0, 70, 200, 600. (c) Right Column: Nonlinear isotropic diffusion with the
Charbonnier diffusivity (λ = 3), t = 0, 70, 150, 400.
5.1. EDGE-ENHANCING DIFFUSION 121
Figure 5.4: Evolution of an MRI slice under different PDEs. Top: Original image,
Ω = (0, 236)
2
. (a) Left Column: Isotropic nonlinear diffusion (λ = 3, σ =
1), t = 0, 25000, 500000, 7000000. (b) Middle Column: Isotropic nonlinear
diffusion (λ = 3, σ = 4), t = 0, 40, 400, 1500. (c) Right Column: Edge-
enhancing anisotropic diffusion (λ = 3, σ = 1), t = 0, 250, 875, 3000.
122 CHAPTER 5. EXAMPLES AND APPLICATIONS
Figure 5.5: Evolution of an MRI slice under different PDEs. Top: Original image,
Ω = (0, 236)
2
. (a) Left Column: Dilation with a disc, t = 0, 4, 10, 20. (b)
Middle Column: Dilation with a quadratic structuring function, t = 0, 0.25,
1, 4. (c) Right Column: Mean curvature motion, t = 0, 70, 275, 1275.
5.1. EDGE-ENHANCING DIFFUSION 123
Figure 5.6: Evolution of an MRI slice under different PDEs. Top: Original image,
Ω = (0, 236)
2
. (a) Left Column: Affine morphological scale-space, t = 0, 20,
50, 140. (b) Middle Column: Modified mean curvature motion (λ = 3, σ = 1),
t = 0, 100, 350, 1500. (c) Right Column: Self-snakes (λ = 3, σ = 1), t = 0,
600, 5000, 40000.
124 CHAPTER 5. EXAMPLES AND APPLICATIONS
A completely different morphological evolution is given by the mean curvature
motion (1.90) depicted in Fig. 5.5(c). Since MCM shrinks level lines with a ve-
locity that is proportional to their curvature, low-curved object boundaries are
less affected by this process, while high-curved structures (e.g. the nose) exhibit
roundings at an earlier stage. This also explains its excellent noise elimination
qualities. After some time, however, the head looks almost like a ball. This is in
accordance with the theory which predicts convergence of all closed level lines to
circular points.
A similar behaviour can be observed for the affine invariant morphological scale-
space (1.108) shown in Fig. 5.6(a). Since it takes the time T =
3
4
s
4
3
to remove
all isolines within a circle of radius s – in contrast to T =
1
2
s
2
for MCM – we
see that, for a comparable elimination of small structure, the shrinking effect of
large structures is stronger for AMSS than for MCM. Thus, the correspondence
problem is more severe than for MCM. Nevertheless, the advantage of having affine
invariance may counterbalance the correspondence problem in certain applications.
Since the AMSS involves no additional parameters and offers more invariances
than other scale-spaces, it is ideal for uncommitted image analysis and shape
recognition. Both MCM and AMSS give significantly sharper edges than linear
diffusion filtering, but they are not designed to act contrast-enhancing.
One possibility to reduce the correspondence problem of morphological scale-
spaces is to attenuate the curve evolution at high-contrast edges. This is at the
expense of withdrawing morphology in terms of invariance under monotone grey-
scale transformations.
One possibility is to use the damping function outside the divergence expression.
Processes of this type are studied in [13, 364, 365, 304]. As a simple prototype for
this idea, let us investigate the modified MCM

t
u = g([∇u
σ
[
2
) [∇u[ div

∇u
[∇u[

(5.10)
with g([∇u
σ
[
2
) as in (1.32). The corresponding evolution is depicted in Fig. 5.6(b).
We observe that structures remain much better localized than in the original MCM.
On the other hand, the experiments give evidence that this process is probably
not contrast-enhancing, see e.g. the chin. As a consequence, the results appear less
segmentation-like than those for nonlinear diffusion filtering.
Using g([∇u
σ
[
2
) inside the divergence expression leads to

t
u = [∇u[ div

g([∇u
σ
[
2
)
∇u
[∇u[

. (5.11)
In Section 1.6.6 we have seen that processes of this type are called self-snakes
[357]. Since they differ from isotropic nonlinear diffusion filters by the [∇u[ terms
inside and outside the divergence expression, they will not preserve the average
5.1. EDGE-ENHANCING DIFFUSION 125
Figure 5.7: Preprocessing of a fabric image. (a) Left: Fabric, Ω =
(0, 257)
2
. (b) Right: Anisotropic diffusion, λ = 4, σ = 2, t = 240.
grey value. The evolution in Fig. 5.6(c) indicates that g([∇u
σ
[
2
) gives similar edge-
enhancing effects as in a nonlinear diffusion filter, but one can observe a stronger
tendency to create circular structures. This behaviour which resembles MCM is
not surprising if one compares (1.120) with (1.121).
Let us now study two applications of nonlinear diffusion filtering in computer
aided quality control (CAQ): the grading of fabrics and wood surfaces (see also
[413]).
The quality of a fabric is determined by two criteria, namely clouds and stripes.
Clouds result from isotropic inhomogeneities of the density distribution, whereas
stripes are an anisotropic phenomenon caused by adjacent fibres pointing in the
same direction. Anisotropic diffusion filters are capable of visualizing both quality-
relevant features simultaneously (Fig. 5.7). For a suitable parameter choice, they
perform isotropic smoothing at clouds and diffuse in an anisotropic way along fi-
bres in order to enhance them. However, if one wants to visualize both features
separately, one can use a fast pyramid algorithm based on linear diffusion filter-
ing for the clouds [417], whereas stripes can be enhanced by a special nonlinear
diffusion filter which is designed for closing interrupted lines and which shall be
discussed in Section 5.2.
For furniture production it is of importance to classify the quality of wood
surfaces. If one aims to automize this evaluation, one has to process the image in
such a way that quality relevant features become better visible und unimportant
structures disappear. Fig. 5.8(a) depicts a wood surface possessing one defect. To
visualize this defect, equation (5.4) can be applied with good success (Fig. 5.8(b)).
126 CHAPTER 5. EXAMPLES AND APPLICATIONS
Figure 5.8: Defect detection in wood. (a) Left: Wood surface, Ω =
(0, 256)
2
. (b) Right: Isotropic nonlinear diffusion, λ = 4, σ = 2,
t = 2000.
In [413] it is demonstrated how a modified anisotropic diffusion process yields even
more accurate results with less roundings at the corners.
Fig. 5.9(a) gives an example for possible medical applications of nonlinear dif-
fusion filtering as a preprocessing tool for segmentation (see also [415] for another
example). It depicts an MRI slice of the human head. For detecting Alzheimer’s
disease one is interested in determining the ratio between the ventricle areas, which
are given by the two white longitudinal objects in the centre, and the entire head
area.
In order to make the diagnosis more objective and reliable, it is intended to
automize this feature extraction step by a segmentation algorithm. Figure 5.9(c)
shows a segmentation according to the following simplification of the Mumford–
Shah functional (1.58):
E
f
(u, K) =


(u−f)
2
dx + α[K[. (5.12)
It has been obtained by a MegaWave programme using a hierarchical region grow-
ing algorithm due to Koepfler et al. [239]. As is seen in Fig. 5.9(d), one gets a better
segmentation when processing the original image slightly by means of nonlinear
diffusion filtering (Fig. 5.9(b)) prior to segmenting it.
5.2. COHERENCE-ENHANCING DIFFUSION 127
Figure 5.9: Preprocessing of an MRI slice. (a) Top Left: Head, Ω =
(0, 256)
2
. (b) Top Right: Diffusion-filtered, λ = 5, σ = 0.1, t =
2.5. (c) Bottom Left: Segmented original image, α = 8192. (d)
Bottom Right: Segmented filtered image, α = 8192.
5.2 Coherence-enhancing diffusion
5.2.1 Filter design
In this section we shall investigate how the structure tensor information can be
used to design anisotropic diffusion scale-spaces which enhance the coherence of
flow-like textures [418]. This requires a nonvanishing integration scale ρ.
Let again µ
1
, µ
2
with µ
1
≥ µ
2
be the eigenvalues of J
ρ
, and v
1
, v
2
the cor-
responding orthonormal eigenvectors. As in 5.1 the diffusion tensor D(J
ρ
(∇u
σ
))
ought to possess the same set of eigenvectors as J
ρ
(∇u
σ
).
If one wants to enhance coherent structures, one should smooth preferably
128 CHAPTER 5. EXAMPLES AND APPLICATIONS
Figure 5.10: Local orientation in a fingerprint image. (a) Top Left:
Original fingerprint, Ω = (0, 256)
2
. (b) Top Right: Orientation
of smoothed gradient, σ = 0.5. (c) Bottom Left: Orientation of
smoothed gradient, σ = 5. (d) Bottom Right: Structure tensor
orientation, σ = 0.5, ρ = 4.
along the coherence direction v
2
with a diffusivity λ
2
which increases with respect
to the coherence (µ
1
−µ
2
)
2
. This may be achieved by the following choice for the
eigenvalues of the diffusion tensor (C > 0, m ∈ IN):
λ
1
:= α,
λ
2
:=

α if µ
1

2
,
α + (1−α) exp

−C

1
−µ
2
)
2m

else,
where the exponential function was chosen to ensure the smoothness of D and the
5.2. COHERENCE-ENHANCING DIFFUSION 129
Figure 5.11: Anisotropic equations applied to the fingerprint image.
(a) Left: Mean-curvature motion, t = 5. (b) Right: Coherence-
enhancing anisotropic diffusion, σ = 0.5, ρ = 4, t = 20.
small positive parameter α∈(0, 1) keeps D(J
ρ
(∇u
σ
)) uniformly positive definite.
2
All examples below are calculated using C := 1, m := 1, and α := 0.001.
5.2.2 Applications
Figure 5.10 illustrates the advantages of local orientation analysis by means of
the structure tensor. In order to detect the local orientation of the fingerprint
depicted in Fig. 5.10(a), the gradient orientation of a slightly smoothed image has
been calculated (Fig. 5.10(b)). Horizontally oriented structures appear black, while
vertical structures are represented in white. We observe very high fluctuations in
the local orientation. When applying a larger smoothing kernel it is clear that
adjacent gradients having the same orientation but opposite direction cancel out.
Therefore, the results in (c) are much worse than in (b). The structure tensor,
however, averages the gradient orientation instead of its direction. This is the
reason for the reliable estimates of local orientation that can be obtained with this
method (Fig. 5.10(d)).
To illustrate how the result of anisotropic PDE methods depends on the direc-
tion in which they smooth, let us recall the example of mean curvature motion (cf.
1.6.1):

t
u = u
ξξ
= [∇u[ curv(u) (5.13)
with ξ being the direction perpendicular to ∇u. Since MCM smoothes by prop-
agating level lines in inner normal direction we recognize that its smoothing di-
2
Evidently, filters of this type are not regularizations of the Perona–Malik process: the limit
σ →0, ρ →0 leads to a linear diffusion process with constant diffusivity α.
130 CHAPTER 5. EXAMPLES AND APPLICATIONS
Figure 5.12: Scale-space behaviour of coherence-enhancing diffusion
(σ = 0.5, ρ = 2). (a) Top Left: Original fabric image, Ω = (0, 257)
2
.
(b) Top Right: t = 20. (c) Bottom Left: t = 120. (d) Bottom
Right: t = 640.
rection depends exclusively on ∇u. Thus, although this method is in a complete
anisotropic spirit, we should not expect it to be capable of closing interrupted
line-like structures. The results in Fig. 5.11(a) confirm this impression.
The proposed anisotropic diffusion filter, however, biases the diffusive flux to-
wards the coherence orientation v
2
and is therefore well-suited for closing inter-
rupted lines in coherent flow-like textures, see Fig. 5.11(b). Due to its reduced
diffusivity at noncoherent structures, the locations of the semantically important
singularities in the fingerprint remain the same. This is an important prerequisite
that any image processing method has to satisfy if it is to be applied to fingerprint
analysis.
5.2. COHERENCE-ENHANCING DIFFUSION 131
Figure 5.13: (a) Top: High resolution slipring CT scan of a femural bone,
Ω = (0, 300) (0, 186). (b) Bottom Left: Filtered by coherence-enhancing
anisotropic diffusion, σ = 0.5, ρ = 6, t = 16. (c) Bottom Right: Dito with
t =128.
Figure 5.12 depicts the scale-space behaviour of coherence-enhancing aniso-
tropic diffusion applied to the fabric image from Fig. 5.7. The temporal behaviour
of this diffusion filter seems to be appropriate for visualizing coherent fibre agglom-
erations (stripes) at different scales, a difficult problem for the automatic grading
of nonwovens [299].
Figure 5.13 illustrates the potential of CED for medical applications. It depicts
a human bone. Its internal structure has a distinctive texture through the presence
of tiny elongated bony structural elements, the trabeculae. There is evidence that
the trabecular formation is for a great deal determined by the external load. For
this reason the trabecular structure constitutes an important clinical parameter in
orthopedics. Examples are the control of recovery after surgical procedures, such
as the placement or removal of metal implants, quantifying the rate of progression
of rheumatism and osteoporosis, the determination of left-right deviations of sym-
metry in the load or establishing optimal load corrections by physiotherapy. From
Figure 5.13(b),(c) we observe that CED is capable of enhancing the trabecular
structures in order to ease their subsequent orientation analysis.
132 CHAPTER 5. EXAMPLES AND APPLICATIONS
Figure 5.14: Image restoration using coherence-enhancing anisotropic
diffusion. (a) Left: “Selfportrait” by van Gogh (Saint-R´emy, 1889;
Paris, Muse´e d’Orsay), Ω = (0, 215) (0, 275). (b) Right: Filtered,
σ = 0.5, ρ = 4, t = 6.
Let us now investigate the impact of coherence-enhancing diffusion on images,
which are not typical texture images, but still reveal a flow-like character. To this
end, we shall process impressionistic paintings by Vincent van Gogh.
Fig. 5.14 shows the restoration properties of coherence-enhancing anisotropic
diffusion when being applied to a selfportrait of the artist [161]. We observe that
the diffusion filter can close interrupted lines and enhance the flow-like character
which is typical for van Gogh paintings.
The next painting we are concerned with is called “Road with Cypress and
Star” [162, 429]. It is depicted in Fig. 5.15. In order to demonstrate the influence
of the integration scale ρ, all filter parameters are fixed except for ρ. Fig. 5.15(b)
shows that a value for ρ which is too small does not lead to the visually dominant
coherence orientation and creates structures with a lot of undesired fluctuations.
Increasing the value for ρ improves the image significantly (Fig. 5.15(c)). Interest-
ingly, a further increasing of ρ does hardly alter this result (Fig. 5.15(d)), which
indicates that this van Gogh painting possesses a uniform “texture scale” reflecting
the characteristic painting style of the artist.
In a last example the temporal evolution of flow-like images is illustrated by
virtue of the “Starry Night” painting in Fig. 5.16 [160, 419]. Due to the established
5.2. COHERENCE-ENHANCING DIFFUSION 133
Figure 5.15: Impact of the integration scale on coherence-enhancing
anisotropic diffusion (σ = 0.5, t = 8). (a) Top Left: “Road with
Cypress and Star” by van Gogh (Auvers-sur-Oise, 1890; Otterlo, Ri-
jksmuseum Kr¨oller–M¨ uller), Ω = (0, 203) (0, 290). (b) Top Right:
Filtered with ρ = 1. (c) Bottom Left: ρ = 4. (d) Bottom Right:
ρ = 6.
134 CHAPTER 5. EXAMPLES AND APPLICATIONS
Figure 5.16: Scale-space properties of coherence-enhancing anisotropic diffusion
(σ = 0.5, ρ = 4). (a) Top Left: “Starry Night” by van Gogh (Saint-R´emy,
1889; New York, The Museum of Modern Art), Ω = (0, 255) (0, 199). (b) Top
Right: t = 8. (c) Bottom Left: t = 64. (d) Bottom Right: t = 512.
scale-space properties, the image becomes gradually simpler in many aspects, be-
fore it finally will tend to its simplest representation, a constant image with the
same average grey value as the original one. The flow-like character, however, is
maintained for a very long time.
3
3
Results for AMSS filtering of this image can be found in [305].
Chapter 6
Conclusions and perspectives
While Chapter 1 has given a general overview of PDE-based smoothing and restora-
tion methods, the goal of Chapters 2–5 has been to present a scale-space framework
for nonlinear diffusion filtering which does not require any monotony assump-
tion (comparison principle). We have seen that, besides the fact that many global
smoothing scale-space properties are maintained, new possibilities with respect to
image restoration appear.
Rather than deducing a unique equation from first principles we have ana-
lysed well-posedness and scale-space properties of a general family of regularized
anisotropic diffusion filters. Existence and uniqueness results, continuous depen-
dence of the solution on the initial image, maximum–minimum principles, invari-
ances, Lyapunov functionals, and convergence to a constant steady-state have been
established.
The large class of Lyapunov functionals permits to regard these filters in many
ways as simplifying, information-reducing transformations. These global smooth-
ing properties do not contradict seemingly opposite local effects such as edge en-
hancement. For this reason it is possible to design scale-spaces with restoration
properties giving segmentation-like results.
Prerequisites have been stated under which one can prove well-posedness and
scale-space results in the continuous, semidiscrete and discrete setting. Each of
these frameworks is self-contained and does not require the others. On the other
hand, the prerequisites in all three settings reveal many similarities and, as a
consequence, representatives of the semidiscrete class can be obtained by suitable
spatial discretizations of the continuous class, while representatives of the discrete
class may arise from time discretizations of semidiscrete filters.
The degree of freedom within the proposed class of filters can be used to tailor
the filters towards specific restoration tasks. Therefore, these scale-spaces do not
need to be uncommitted; they give the user the liberty to incorporate a-priori
knowledge, for instance concerning size and contrast of especially interesting fea-
tures.
135
136 CHAPTER 6. CONCLUSIONS AND PERSPECTIVES
The analysed class comprises linear diffusion filtering and the nonlinear iso-
tropic model of Catt´e et al. [81] and Whitaker and Pizer [438], but also novel ap-
proaches have been proposed: The use of diffusion tensors instead of scalar-valued
diffusivities puts us in a position to design real anisotropic diffusion processes
which may reveal advantages at noisy edges. Last but not least, the fact that these
filters are steered by the structure tensor instead of the regularized gradient allows
to adapt them to more sophisticated tasks such as the enhancement of coherent
flow-like structures.
In view of these results, anisotropic diffusion deserves to be regarded as much
more than an ad-hoc strategy for transforming a degraded image into a more
pleasant looking one. It is a flexible and mathematically sound class of methods
which ties the advantages of two worlds: scale-space analysis and image restoration.
It is clear, however, that nonlinear diffusion filtering is a young field which has
certainly not reached its final state yet. Thus, we can expect a lot of new results
in the near future. Some of its future developments, however, are likely to consist
of straightforward extensions of topics presented in this text:
• While the theory and the examples in the present book focus on 2-D grey-
scale images, it is evident that most of its results can easily be generalized to
higher dimensions and vector-valued images. The need for such extensions
grows with the rapid progress in the development of faster computers, the
general availability of affordable colour scanners and printers, and the wish
to integrate information from different channels. Some of the references in
Chapter 1 point in directions how this can be accomplished.
• The various possibilities to include semilocal or global information constitute
another future perspective. This could lead to specifically tuned filters for
topics such as perceptual grouping. Coherence-enhancing anisotropic diffu-
sion is only a first step in this direction. New filter models might arise using
other structure descriptors than the (regularized) gradient or the structure
tensor. Interesting candidates could be wavelets, Gabor filters, or steerable
filters.
• In contrast to the linear diffusion case, the relation between structures at
different scales has rarely been exploited in the nonlinear context. Although
this problem is less severe, since the avoidance of correspondence problems
was one of the key motivations to study nonlinear scale-spaces, it would cer-
tainly be useful to better understand the deep structure in nonlinear diffusion
processes. The scale-space stack of these filters appears to be well-suited to
extract semantically important information with respect to a specified task.
This field offers a lot of challenging mathematical questions.
137
• Most people working in computer vision do not have a specific knowledge
on numerical methods for PDEs. As a consequence, the most widely-used
numerical methods for nonlinear diffusion filtering are still the simple, but
inefficient explicit (Euler forward) schemes. Novel, more time-critical appli-
cation areas could be explored by applying implicit schemes, splitting and
multigrid techniques, or grid adaptation strategies. In this context it would be
helpful to have software packages, where different nonlinear diffusion filters
are implemented in an efficient way, and which are easy to use for everyone.
• The price one has to pay for the flexibility of nonlinear diffusion filtering is
the specification of some parameters. Since these parameters have a rather
natural meaning, this is not a very difficult problem for someone with ex-
perience in computer vision. Somebody with another primary interest, for
instance a physician who wants to denoise ultrasound images, may be fright-
ened by this perspective. Thus, more research on finding some guidelines
for automatic parameter determination for a task at hand would encourage
also people without a specific image processing background to apply nonlin-
ear diffusion filters. Several useful suggestions for parameter adaptation can
already be found in [328, 36, 431, 270, 444].
• There are not yet many studies which explore the potential of nonlinear dif-
fusion filtering when being combined with other image processing techniques.
Especially combinations with concepts such as data compression, segmenta-
tion algorithms, tomographic reconstruction techniques, or neural networks
for learning a-priori information might lead to novel application areas for
these techniques.
Thus, there still remains a lot of work to be done. It would be nice if this book has
inspired its readers to contribute to the solution of some of the remaining open
problems.
138 CHAPTER 6. CONCLUSIONS AND PERSPECTIVES
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Index
a-priori estimates, 93, 105, 110
a-priori knowledge, 12–14, 119, 135
active
blobs, 46
contour models, 44–49
surfaces, 46
adaptive mesh coarsening, 25
adaptive smoothing, 14
additive operator splitting, 26, 107–111
affine
arc-length, see arc-length
Gaussian scale-space, 13
invariance, see invariance
invariant geodesic snakes, 48
invariant gradient, 45
invariant heat flow, 40
invariant texture segmentation, 29
morphological scale-space, 40–45, 113,
124
Mumford–Shah functional, 29
perimeter, see perimeter
shortening flow, see shortening flow
transformation, see transformation
AMSS, see affine morphological scale-space
anisotropic diffusion, see diffusion
AOS, see additive operator splitting
applications, 11, 13, 26, 28, 30, 37, 44, 52,
114–126, 129–134
arc-length
affine, 40
Euclidean, 38
area-preserving flows, 42
average globality, 74
average grey level invariance, see invariance
axiomatics, see scale-space
balloon force, 47, 48
basic equation of figure, 13
bias term, 28, 49
blind image restoration, 27, 52
blob detection, 5, 45
BUC, 34, 61
CAD, 37
Canny edge detector, 5, 15
causality, 5, 34, 65
CED, see diffusion, coherence-enhancing
central moments, 73, 85, 102
circular point, 39
closing, 32
coherence, 57, 128
coherence direction, 57, 128
coherence-enhancing diffusion, see diffusion
colour images, see vector-valued images
commuting operators, 62
comparison principle, 20, 61, 135
computer aided quality control, 26, 125–126,
130
condition number, 88, 95, 106
conjugate gradient methods, 106
continuity, 97
continuity equation, 2
continuous dependence, see well-posedness
continuous diffusion, see diffusion
contrast enhancement, 15, 40, 53, 61, 62, 72,
113–126
contrast parameter, 16
convergence, 14, 19, 21, 22, 26, 28, 30, 50,
52, 67, 76, 82, 98, 99, 106, 116, 118,
124, 134
convolution theorem, 3, 10
corners, 24, 28, 29, 45, 56, 57, 116
correspondence problem, 12, 19, 53, 116, 124
CPU times, 113
crystal growth, 38
curvature
of a curve, 33
of an image, 33
curve evolution, 33, 38–43, 46, 47
curve evolution schemes, 36, 43
deblurring, 5, 50, 52
165
166 INDEX
deep structure, 11, 136
defect detection, see computer aided quality
control
defocusing, 7
deviation cost, 27, 29
differences-of-Gaussians, 5
differential inequalities, 17
differential invariants, 5
diffusion
anisotropic, 2, 13, 22, 24, 55–74, 87–95,
111, 113–137
backward, 5, 50, 116
coherence-enhancing, 24, 127–134
continuous, 55–74
directed, 14
discrete, 97–111
edge-enhancing, 23, 113–126
equation, 2
forward–backward, 15, 45, 66, 72
homogeneous, 2
inhomogeneous, 2, 117
isotropic, 2–22, 86–87, 110, 116
linear, 2–14, 36, 116, 125
nonlinear, 2, 14–27, 52, 55–137
on a sphere, 12
physical background, 2
semidiscrete, 75–95
tensor, 2, 13, 22, 58, 62, 88, 95, 114, 127,
135
diffusion–reaction, 27–30, 118
single equations, 27
systems, 28
diffusivity, 2, 15, 16, 47, 48, 116
digitally scalable, 36
dilation, 32, 35, 47, 63, 113, 119
direction, 56
directional diffusivities, 89, 94
directional splitting, 88–95, 107–111
discrete analogue
AMSS, MCM, 43
Gaussian, 10
linear diffusion, 10
nonlinear diffusion, 25, 97–111
discrete diffusion, see diffusion
dissipative effects, 37, 43, 44
distance transformation, 37, 47
DoGs, see differences-of-Gaussians
doubly stochastic matrix, 98
edge cost, 27, 29
edge detection, 5, 15, 24, 28, 30, 50, 53, 55,
57
edge enhancement, see contrast enhancement
edge-enhancing diffusion, see diffusion
elliptic point, 41
energy, 72, 85, 102
energy functional
explicit snakes, 46
for curves, 28, 29
geodesic snakes, 48
Mumford–Shah, 28, 44, 126
Nordstr¨om, 27, 30, 51
Perona–Malik, 18
Polyakov, 42
TV-minimization, 51
ENO schemes, 37
entropy, 11, 73, 85, 102
generalized, 11, 73
entropy scale-space, see scale-space, reaction–
diffusion
erosion, 32, 47, 63
Euclidean
arc-length, see arc-length
perimeter, see perimeter
shortening flow, see shortening flow
transformation, see transformation
Eulerian formulation, 33
existence, see well-posedness
expected value, 73
explicit schemes, 11, 19, 25, 43, 53, 103, 105,
106, 113, 137
external energy, 46
extremum principle, 4, 6, 18–20, 30, 34, 39,
41, 44, 50, 58, 62, 66, 76, 77, 87, 93,
98, 105
fabrics, 125, 130
FD, see finite differences
feature vectors, 24
Fick’s law, 2
filter design, 114, 127
fingerprint enhancement, 26, 129
finite differences, 11, 25, 30, 43, 46, 50, 51,
85–95, 102–111, 113
finite elements, 25, 28
flame propagation, 38
flowline, 16
flux, 2, 15, 22, 114
focus-of-attention, 11
forensic applications, 52
INDEX 167
Fourier transformation, 3, 10, 35, 44
free discontinuity problems, 29
fundamental equation in image processing,
41, 42
Gabor filters, 45, 136
Gabor’s restoration method, 45
gas dynamics, 49
gauge coordinates, 16
Gaussian
derivatives, 4, 43, 44
elimination, 106
kernel, 3, 35
pyramid, 11
scale-space, see scale-space
smoothing, 2–14, 56
Gauß–Seidel method, 44, 106
generalized entropy, see entropy
generalized figure, 13
geodesic, 48
geodesic curvature flow, 42
geometric heat equation, 38, 39
grassfire flow, 33
grey level shift invariance, see invariance
grey-scale invariance, see invariance
halftoning, 30, 37
hardware realizations, 11, 13, 25, 33
heat equation, 2
histogramme enhancement, 28, 45
Huygens principle, 33
hyperstack, 63
hysteresis thresholding, 5, 15
Iijima’s axiomatic, 7
ill-posedness, 4, 17, 28–30, 49, 53
image
colour, see vector-valued images
discrete, 75
grey-scale, 3, 55
higher dimensional, see three-dimensional
images
vector-valued, see vector-valued images
image compression, 73, 137
image enhancement, 14–30, 45, 48–53, 55–
74, 113–134
image restoration, see image enhancement
image sequences, 11, 24, 30, 47, 48, 56, 62
immediate localization, 19
implicit schemes, 11, 44, 137
information theory, 73
integral geometry, 10
integration scale, 57, 114, 127, 132
interest operator, see structure tensor
internal energy, 46
intrinsic heat flows, 39, 40, 42
invariance
affine, 42–45
average grey level, 13, 63, 76, 81, 98, 99,
119
grey level shift, 62, 81
grey-scale, 31, 43, 45, 124
isometry, 64, 81
morphological, see invariance, grey-scale
reverse contrast, 63, 81
rotational, 13, 21, 35, 43
scale, 8
translation, 8, 64, 81
irreducibility, 75, 76, 97
isometry invariance, see invariance
isophote, 16
Japanese scale-space research, 7, 13
jet space, 24
junctions, 5, 29, 42, 56
Kramer–Bruckner filter, 50
Laplacian-of-Gaussian, 5
length-preserving flows, 42
level set, 31, 44
level set methods, 36
line detection, 26
linear diffusion, see diffusion
linear systems, 106, 107, 110
linearity, 8
Lipschitz-continuity, 76
local extrema
creation, 12, 43, 65
noncreation, 34, 39, 119
nonenhancement, 65
local scale, 57
LoG, see Laplacian-of-Gaussian
Lyapunov
functionals, 66–74, 135
functions, 76, 82–85
sequences, 98–102
Markov chains, 98
Markov processes, 11
168 INDEX
Markov random fields, 27, 29
Marr–Hildreth operator, 5
maximal monotone operator, 17
maximum–minimum principle, see extremum
principle
MCM, see mean curvature motion
mean curvature motion, 37–40, 42–45, 47,
50, 51, 93, 113, 119, 125, 129
backward, 45
mean field annealing, 27
median filtering, 38
medical imaging, 27, 28, 45, 46, 52, 62, 63,
111, 116–126, 131
MegaWave, 44, 116, 126
min–max flow, 45
minimal surfaces, 29, 38
monotonicity preservation, 19
morphological invariance, see invariance, grey-
scale
morphology, 30–49, 119–124
binary, 31
classical, 30–37
continuous-scale, 32
curvature-based, 37–49
grey-scale, 31
multigrid, 11, 25, 106, 137
multiplicative operator splittings, 110
Mumford–Shah functional, see energy func-
tional
neural networks, 25, 137
noise elimination, 12, 21, 23, 45, 116, 124
noise scale, 21, 57
non-maxima suppression, 5, 15
noncreation of local extrema, see local ex-
trema
nonenhancement of local extrema, see local
extrema
nonlinear diffusion, see diffusion
nonnegativity, 76, 88, 97, 107
Nordstr¨om functional, see energy function-
als
numerical aspects, 10, 25, 36, 43, 51, 85–95,
102–111, 113
oceanography, 18
ODE, see ordinary differential equations
opening, 32
optic flow, 11, 28, 52
optical character recognition, 13
optimization
convex, 28
nonconvex, 53
ordinary differential equations, 75–95
orientation, 56, 129
oscillations, 10, 19, 21, 44, 50
Osher–Sethian schemes, 36, 113
oversegmentation, 29
parallel computing, 25, 26, 30, 110, 111
parameter determination, 17, 46, 114, 119,
129, 137
partial differential equations, 1–53
particle methods, 27
path planning, 37
PDE, see partial differential equations
perceptual grouping, 136
perimeter
affine, 41
Euclidean, 39
Perona–Malik filter, 14–20, 28, 30, 45, 49,
114
basic idea, 15
edge enhancement, 15
ill-posedness, 17
regularizations, 20–24
scale-space properties, 19
semidiscrete, 87
piecewise smoothing, 19
pixel numbering, 87
positivity, 97
positivity preservation, 8
postprocessing, 26
prairie flow, 33
predictor–corrector schemes, 107, 109
preprocessing, 118, 126
pseudospectral methods, 25
pyramids, 11, 25, 125
quantization, 45
random variable, 72
reaction–diffusion bubbles, 48
reaction–diffusion scale-space, see scale-space
recursive filters, 10, 11, 110, 111
recursivity, 6
redistribution property, 99
region growing, 29, 126
regularity, 58, 61
INDEX 169
regularization, 4, 10, 49, 50, 52, 62, 72, 93,
114
remote sensing, 27
rescaling, 20
reverse contrast invariance, see invariance
robust statistics, 27
row sum, 76, 97
scale invariance, see invariance
scale selection, 11
scale–imprecision space, 6
scale-space
affine Gaussian, 13
affine morphological, 41
anisotropic diffusion, 62–74
architectural principles, 6
axioms, 6, 34, 42, 53
dilation–erosion, 34
discrete nonlinear diffusion, 25, 99–111
for curves, 39, 42
for image sequences, 11, 43
for shapes, 42
Gaussian, 7
general concept, 6
invariance principles, 7
linear diffusion, 7, 116
linearity principle, 7
mean curvature, 39
morphological equivalent of Gaussian scale-
space, 35
nonlinear diffusion, 62–74, 118
projective, 42
reaction–diffusion, 45
semidiscrete linear, 10
semidiscrete nonlinear diffusion, 25, 81–
95
smoothing principles, 6, 62
scatter matrix, see structure tensor
second moment matrix, see structure tensor
segmentation, 11, 21, 27, 44, 53, 63, 118, 126,
137
self-snakes, see snakes
semi-implicit schemes, 25, 44, 50, 102–111,
113
semidiscrete, 10
semidiscrete analogue
linear diffusion, 10
nonlinear diffusion, 25, 75–95
semidiscrete diffusion, see diffusion
semigroup property, 6, 8, 34
separability, 10, 35, 36, 110
set-theoretic schemes, 36, 43
shape, 31
cues, 56
exaggeration, 45
offset, 37
recognition, 45, 124
segmentation, 45
shape inclusion principle, 39
shape-adapted Gaussian smoothing, 13, 22
shape-from-shading, 37
shock
capturing schemes, 37, 49
creation, 34, 50
filters, 50
shortening flow
affine, 41
Euclidean, 38
silhouette, 31
simulated annealing, 29
skeletonization, 37
slope transform, 35
smoothness, 58, 76, 97, 99, 128
snakes, 46
explicit, 46
geodesic, 48
implicit, 47
self-snakes, 48, 124
software, 27, 44, 116, 137
SOR, 106
stability, 25, 43, 44, 106, 109
stabilizing cost, 27, 29
staircasing effect, 18, 29, 52
Stampacchia’s truncation method, 59
steady-state, see convergence
steerable filters, 136
stencil size, 88–95
stereo, 11, 28, 30, 48, 62
stochastic matrix, 98
stopping time, 4, 28, 39, 41, 47, 74, 116
string theory, 42
structure tensor, 56, 86, 114, 136
structuring element, 32
structuring function, 35
subpixel accuracy, 36
subsampling, 26, 73
symmetry, 58, 76, 97
target tracking, 27
terrain matching, 45
170 INDEX
texture
analysis, 56
discrimination, 45, 73
enhancement, 26, 45, 127
generation, 30
segmentation, 24, 27, 29
three-dimensional images, 24, 43, 46–48, 136
topological changes, 43, 46, 47
toppoint, 12
total variation, 49
minimizing methods, 50
preserving methods, 49
transformation
affine, 40
Euclidean, 38
projective, 42
translation invariance, see invariance
Turing’s pattern formation model, 30
TV, see total variation
uniform positive definiteness, 58, 62, 76, 93,
129
uniqueness, see well-posedness
van Gogh, 131
variance, 73
vector-valued images, 24, 28, 30, 42, 43, 49,
52, 136
viscosity solution, 17, 34, 41, 45, 47–49, 61
visual system, 5, 15, 33
wavelets, 11, 25, 44, 136
weak membrane model, 29
well-posedness, 4, 20, 23, 28, 29, 34, 39, 41,
47–49, 52, 53, 58, 62, 76, 77, 98, 135
wood surfaces, 125
zero-crossings, 5, 34, 50
Anisotropic Diffusion
in Image Processing
Joachim Weickert
University of Copenhagen
Many recent techniques for digital image enhancement and multiscale image rep-
resentations are based on nonlinear partial differential equations.
This book gives an introduction to the main ideas behind these methods, and
it describes in a systematic way their theoretical foundations, numerical aspects,
and applications. A large number of references enables the reader to acquire an
up-to-date overview of the original literature.
The central emphasis is on anisotropic nonlinear diffusion filters. Their flexibil-
ity allows to combine smoothing properties with image enhancement qualities. A
general framework is explored covering well-posedness and scale-space results not
only for the continuous, but also for the algorithmically important semidiscrete and
fully discrete settings. The presented examples range from applications in medical
image analysis to problems in computer aided quality control.
B.G. Teubner Stuttgart

Anisotropic Diffusion in Image Processing
Joachim Weickert

B.G. Teubner Stuttgart

Anisotropic Diffusion in Image Processing

Joachim Weickert
Department of Computer Science University of Copenhagen Copenhagen, Denmark

B.G. Teubner Stuttgart 1998

c Copyright 2008 by Joachim Weickert. semidiscrete. The goal was to visualize the quality relevant adjacent fibre structures. . or translated into a machine language without the written permission of the author.2 for more details). so-called stripes. 1991 M. Joachim Weickert Born in 1965 in Ludwigshafen/Germany. in mathematics. nat.D. physics and computer science at the University of Kaiserslautern. The copyright has been returned to the author in 2008. The displayed equations describe the basic structure of nonlinear diffusion filtering in the continuous. The cover image shows a thresholded nonwoven fabric image which was processed by applying a coherence-enhancing anisotropic diffusion filter (see Section 5.Sc. Teubner (Stuttgart) in 1998 and went out of print in 2001. No part of this book may be reproduced by any means. in physics and industrial mathematics. 1996 Ph. In the current version a few typos and other errors have been corrected. All rights reserved. rer.Dr. Since then visiting assistant research professor at the Department of Computer Science. Their theoretical foundations are treated in Chapters 2–4. Studies in mathematics.Sc. G. This book had been published by B. 1987 B. in industrial mathematics. or transmitted. and fully discrete setting. Copenhagen University. Postdoctoral researcher at the Image Sciences Institute at Utrecht University from 2/96 to 3/97.

To my parents Gerda and Norbert .

Preface
Partial differential equations (PDEs) have led to an entire new field in image processing and computer vision. Hundreds of publications have appeared in the last decade, and PDE-based methods have played a central role at several conferences and workshops. The success of these techniques is not really surprising, since PDEs have proved their usefulness in areas such as physics and engineering sciences for a very long time. In image processing and computer vision, they offer several advantages: • Deep mathematical results with respect to well-posedness are available, such that stable algorithms can be found. PDE-based methods are one of the mathematically best-founded techniques in image processing. • They allow a reinterpretation of several classical methods under a novel unifying framework. This includes many well-known techniques such as Gaussian convolution, median filtering, dilation or erosion. • This understanding has also led to the discovery of new methods. They can offer more invariances than classical techniques, or describe novel ways of shape simplification, structure preserving filtering, and enhancement of coherent line-like structures. • The PDE formulation is genuinely continuous. Thus, their approximations aim to be independent of the underlying grid and may reveal good rotational invariance. PDE-based image processing techniques are mainly used for smoothing and restoration purposes. Many evolution equations for restoring images can be derived as gradient descent methods for minimizing a suitable energy functional, and the restored image is given by the steady-state of this process. Typical PDE techniques for image smoothing regard the original image as initial state of a parabolic (diffusion-like) process, and extract filtered versions from its temporal evolution. The whole evolution can be regarded as a so-called scale-space, an embedding of the original image into a family of subsequently simpler, more global representations of it. Since this introduces a hierarchy into the image structures, one can use a scale-space representation for extracting semantically important information. One of the two goals of this book is to give an overview of the state-of-the-art of PDE-based methods for image enhancement and smoothing. Emphasis is put on a v

vi

PREFACE

unified description of the underlying ideas, theoretical results, numerical approximations, generalizations and applications, but also historical remarks and pointers to open questions can be found. Although being concise, this part covers a broad spectrum: it includes for instance an early Japanese scale-space axiomatic, the Mumford–Shah functional for image segmentation, continuous-scale morphology, active contour models and shock filters. Many references are given which point the reader to useful original literature for a task at hand. The second goal of this book is to present an in-depth treatment of an interesting class of parabolic equations which may bridge the gap between scale-space and restoration ideas: nonlinear diffusion filters. Methods of this type have been proposed for the first time by Perona and Malik in 1987 [326]. In order to smooth an image and to simultaneously enhance important features such as edges, they apply a diffusion process whose diffusivity is steered by derivatives of the evolving image. These filters are difficult to analyse mathematically, as they may act locally like a backward diffusion process. This gives rise to well-posedness questions. On the other hand, nonlinear diffusion filters are frequently applied with very impressive results; so there appears the need for a theoretical foundation. We shall develop results in this direction by investigating a general class of nonlinear diffusion processes. This class comprises linear diffusion filters as well as spatial regularizations of the Perona–Malik process, but it also allows processes which replace the scalar diffusivity by a diffusion tensor. Thus, the diffusive flux does not have to be parallel to the grey value gradient: the filters may become anisotropic. Anisotropic diffusion filters can outperform isotropic ones with respect to certain applications such as denoising of highly degraded edges or enhancing coherent flow-like images by closing interrupted one-dimensional structures. In order to establish well-posedness and scale-space properties for this class, we shall investigate existence, uniqueness, stability, maximum–minimum principles, Lyapunov functionals, and invariances. The proofs present mathematical results from the nonlinear analysis of partial differential equations. Since digital images are always sampled on a pixel grid, it is necessary to know if the results for the continuous framework carry over to the practically relevant discrete setting. These questions are an important topic of the present book as well. A general characterization of semidiscrete and fully discrete filters, which reveal similar properties as their continuous diffusion counterparts, is presented. It leads to a semidiscrete and fully discrete scale-space theory for nonlinear diffusion processes. Mathematically, this comes down to the study of nonlinear systems of ordinary differential equations and the theory of nonnegative matrices. Organization of the book. Image processing and computer vision are interdisciplinary areas, where researchers, practitioners and students may have a very different scientific background and differing intentions. As a consequence, I have tried to keep this book as self-contained as possible, and to include various aspects

PREFACE

vii

such that it should contain interesting material for many readers. The prerequisites are kept to a minimum and can be found in standard textbooks on image processing [163], matrix analysis [407], functional analysis [9, 58, 7], ordinary differential equations [56, 412], partial differential equations [185] and their numerical aspects [293, 286]. The book is organized as follows: Chapter 1 surveys the fundamental ideas behind PDE-based smoothing and restoration methods. This general overview sketches their theoretical properties, numerical methods, applications and generalizations. The discussed methods include linear and nonlinear diffusion filtering, coupled diffusion–reaction methods, PDE analogues of classical morphological processes, Euclidean and affine invariant curve evolutions, and total variation methods. The subsequent three chapters explore a theoretical framework for anisotropic diffusion filtering. Chapter 2 presents a general model for the continuous setting where the diffusion tensor depends on the structure tensor (interest operator, second-moment matrix), a generalization of the Gaussian-smoothed gradient allowing a more sophisticated description of local image structure. Existence and uniqueness are discussed, and stability and an extremum principle are proved. Scale-space properties are investigated with respect to invariances and informationreducing qualities resulting from associated Lyapunov functionals. Chapter 3 establishes conditions under which comparable well-posedness and scale-space results can be proved for the semidiscrete framework. This case takes into account the spatial discretization which is characteristic for digital images, but it keeps the scale-space idea of using a continuous scale parameter. It leads to nonlinear systems of ordinary differential equations. We shall investigate under which conditions it is possible to get consistent approximations of the continuous anisotropic filter class which satisfy the abovementioned requirements. In practice, scale-spaces can only be calculated for a finite number of scales, though. This corresponds to the fully discrete case which is treated in Chapter 4. The investigated discrete filter class comes down to solving linear systems of equations which may arise from semi-implicit time discretizations of the semidiscrete filters. We shall see that many numerical schemes share typical features with their semidiscrete counterparts, for instance well-posedness results, extremum principles, Lyapunov functionals, and convergence to a constant steady-state. This chapter also shows how one can design efficient numerical methods which are in accordance with the fully discrete scale-space framework and which are based on an additive operator splitting (AOS). Chapter 5 is devoted to practical topics such as filter design, examples and applications of anisotropic diffusion filtering. Specific models are proposed which are tailored towards smoothing with edge enhancement and multiscale enhancement of coherent structures. Their qualities are illustrated using images arising from computer aided quality control and medical applications, but also fingerprint im-

During that time I also met Atsushi Imiya (Chiba University. The present book is an extended and revised version of my Ph.D. Japan) at a workshop in Dagstuhl (Germany).viii PREFACE ages and impressionistic paintings shall be processed. and Andrea Bechtold was a great help in all kinds of difficulties with the English language. Pierre–Louis Lions (CEREMADE. The discussions and collaborations with the members of this group increased my interest in scale-space related deep structure analysis and information theory. head of the Laboratory of Technomathematics. thesis. In this young and dynamic group I had the possibility to learn a lot about medical image analysis. Acknowledgments. Copenhagen. Stiftung Rheinland– Pfalz f¨r Innovation. This work has been funded by Stiftung Volkswagenwerk. drew my interest to diffusion processes in image processing. Chapter 6 concludes the book by giving a summary and discussing possible future perspectives for nonlinear diffusion filtering. October 1994) to an international audience.D. The proofreading of this book was done by Martin Reißel and Andrea Bechtold (Kaiserslautern). Helmut Neunzert. the Real World Computing Partnership. University Paris IX) invited me to the CEREMADE. In the latter field I share many common interests with Jon Sporring. and it is a pleasure to take this opportunity to express my gratitude to them. Finally. and he provided the possibility to carry out this work at his laboratory. The results are juxtaposed to related methods from Chapter 1. Germany. After the defence of my thesis in Kaiserslautern. The Netherlands. I also thank him and the other editors of the ECMI Series as well as Teubner Verlag for their interest in publishing this work. He introduced me into the fascinating world of early Japanese scale-space research conducted by Taizo Iijima decades before scale-space became popular in America and Europe. In writing this book I have been helped and influenced by many people. Martin Reißel undertook the hard job of checking the whole manuscript for its mathematical correctness. I joined the TGV (“tools for geometry in vision”) group at Utrecht University Hospital for 14 months. October 1997 Joachim Weickert . Copenhagen University). one of the birthplaces of many important ideas in this field. which was written at the Department of Mathematics at the University of Kaiserslautern. and he acted as a referee for the Ph. and to experience Bart ter Haar Romeny’s enthusiasm for scalespace. Also Robert Maas (Utrecht University Hospital) contributed several useful hints. thesis [416]. and the EU–TMR Research Network VIRGO. In the meantime I am with the computer vision group of Peter Johansen and Jens Arnspang (DIKU. He also gave me the honour to present my results as an invited speaker at the EMS Conference Multiscale Analysis in Image Processing (Lunteren. the Danish Research u Council.

.2 Linear diffusion filtering .6 Generalizations . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1. . . . . . . . . . . . . .4 Methods of diffusion–reaction type . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1.5. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1. 1. . 1 2 3 3 6 10 11 12 13 14 15 20 22 24 25 26 27 27 29 31 31 32 32 34 34 35 36 37 37 37 40 42 43 . . . . . . 1. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .2. . . . . . . . .6 Generalizations .2 Coupled systems of diffusion–reaction 1. . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1. . . . . .2. . ix . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .2. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .8 Applications . . . . . . . . . 1.3. . . . . 1. 1. . . . . . . . . . . . . 1. . . . . . . . . . . . .2 Basic operations . .5. . . 1. . . . . .3. . . . . . . 1. . . .3 Anisotropic nonlinear models . . . .4 Theoretical results .3. 1. . .Contents 1 Image smoothing and restoration by PDEs 1. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .2.1 Relations to Gaussian smoothing . .5. . . . . . . . . . . .5. . . . . . . . . . . . . . .6 Curvature-based morphological processes . 1. . . . 1. . . 1. .5. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .2. . . . . . . . .6 Applications . . . . . .5 Numerical aspects . . . . . . . . . . . .5 Scale-space properties . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1 Binary and grey-scale morphology . . . . .6. . .7 Numerical aspects . . . . . . .3 Continuous-scale morphology . . . . . . . .1 Single diffusion–reaction equations . . . .5. . . 1. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .3 Nonlinear diffusion filtering .5. . . . . . . . . . . . .5 Classic morphological processes . . .4 Applications . . 1. . . . . .2 Scale-space properties . . . 1. . . . . . . . .2. . . . . .1 Mean-curvature filtering . . . . .3 Generalizations . . . . 1. . . . . . . . 1. . . . .3. . . . . .6. . 1. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1. . . . . . . . .2 Regularized nonlinear models . . . . 1. . .3. . . . . . . .3 Numerical aspects . . .6. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .5 Limitations . . . . . . . .6. . 1. . . . . . . . . . . .3. . 1. . . . . .4. . . .4 Generalizations . . . equations . .2 Affine invariant filtering . . . . . . 1. . . . .4 Numerical aspects .1 The Perona–Malik model . . . . . 1. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1 Physical background of diffusion processes . . . . . . . . . . . . .4. . . . . . .5. . . . . . . . . . . . 1. . . . 1. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5. . . . . 3. . . . . . . . . . . . .1 The general model . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .2. . . . . . . . . . . 1. . . . . .1 Edge-enhancing diffusion . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .7. . . . .x 1. 3. . . . . . . . .1. . . . . . . CONTENTS . 2. . . . . . . . . . .2 Anisotropic case . . . . . . . . .1 Filter design . . .4. . . . . . . . . . . 3. . . . . . . . 2. . . . . . . . . . 5 Examples and applications 5. . 5. . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1. . . . . . . . . . . . . . .3 Scale-space properties . . . . . . . . .1 Basic filter structure . . . . .7. . . . 4. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4. 5. . . 4. .4. . . 45 46 49 50 50 53 55 55 56 57 62 62 65 75 75 76 81 86 86 88 97 97 98 99 102 102 107 113 114 114 114 127 127 129 135 139 165 1. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .2 Applications . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4 Discrete diffusion filtering 4. .4. . . . . .2 The structure tensor . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2. . . . 2. . . . . . . . . . . .2 AOS schemes . . .1 Isotropic case . . . . .1. . . . .6 Active contour models . .2 Theoretical results . . . . . . . . . . . . .4 Relation to continuous models 3. . . . .5 Applications .2 Theoretical results . . . . . . . . . . .3 Theoretical results . . . . . . . .6. . . . .1 Filter design . . . . . .1 Invariances . . . . . . . . .3 Scale-space properties . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .2 Coherence-enhancing diffusion 5. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4. . . . . . . . . . . . .4 Relation to semidiscrete models 4. . . .8 2 Continuous diffusion filtering 2. Total variation methods . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .4. .7 1. . . . . . .1 TV-preserving methods . .4. . . . . . . . . . . . .2 Information-reducing properties 3 Semidiscrete diffusion filtering 3. . . . . . . . . 5. . . . . . . .1 The general model . . . .2. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2. . . . 1. . . . . . . . . . . . . .1 Semi-implicit schemes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6 Conclusions and perspectives Bibliography Index . . . . . . . . . .4 Scale-space properties . Conclusions and further scope of the book . .6.2 TV-minimizing methods . . . . . .4. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .2 Applications .

advantages and shortcomings of these techniques. Nevertheless. Although a detailed discussion of these connections would be far beyond the scope of this work. This chapter reviews their main application. generalizations. they are mentioned wherever they appear. Also many historical notes are added. The goal is to make the reader sensitive to the similarities.Chapter 1 Image smoothing and restoration by PDEs PDE-based methods appear in a large variety of image processing and computer vision areas ranging from shape-from-shading and histogramme modification to optic flow and stereo vision. or mechanisms of the retina and the brain are closely related to some of these approaches. and applications are discussed. namely the smoothing and restoration of images. the study of salinity profiles in oceanography. grassfire flow. also gas dynamics. differences. crack propagation. it reveals some interesting relations when it is interpreted within a PDE framework. The outline of this chapter is as follows: We start with reviewing the physical ideas behind diffusion processes. For each class of methods the basic ideas are explained and their theoretical background. Many of these ideas are borrowed from physical phenomena such as wave propagation or transport of heat and mass. This becomes 1 . a topic which looks at first glance fairly different to the diffusion approach. and to point out the main results and open problems in this rapidly evolving area. The subsequent study of image enhancement methods of diffusion–reaction type relates diffusion filters to variational image restoration techniques. After that we investigate morphological filters. Nevertheless. where proofs and full mathematical details can be found. in order to allow the interested reader to pursue these ideas. It is written in an informal style and refers to a large amount of original literature. This helps us to better understand the next sections which are concerned with the properties of linear and nonlinear diffusion filters in image processing. numerical aspects.

(1. The observation that diffusion does only transport mass without destroying it or creating new mass is expressed by the continuity equation ∂t u = −div j (1. The case where j and ∇u are parallel is called isotropic.2 CHAPTER 1. and inhomogeneous blurring is called anisotropic. and a space-dependent filtering is called inhomogeneous. If we plug in Fick’s law into the continuity equation we end up with the diffusion equation ∂t u = div (D · ∇u). The equilibration property is expressed by Fick’s law: j = −D · ∇u.3) This equation appears in many physical transport processes. Such a feedback leads to nonlinear diffusion filters. . even if it uses a scalar-valued diffusivity instead of a diffusion tensor. 1. In image processing we may identify the concentration with the grey value at a certain location. Diffusion which does not depend on the evolving image is called linear. Often the diffusion tensor is a function of the differential structure of the evolving image itself. one speaks of homogeneous diffusion. j and ∇u are not parallel. Sometimes the computer vision literature deviates from the preceding notations: It can happen that homogeneous filtering is named isotropic.2) where t denotes the time.1 Physical background of diffusion processes Most people have an intuitive impression of diffusion as a physical process that equilibrates concentration differences without creating or destroying mass. In the general anisotropic case. PARTIAL DIFFERENTIAL EQUATIONS especially evident when considering curvature-based morphological PDEs. If the diffusion tensor is constant over the whole image domain. The relation between ∇u and j is described by the diffusion tensor D. In the context of heat transfer it is called heat equation. The last section summarizes the advantages and shortcomings of the main methods and gives an outline of the questions we are concerned with in the subsequent chapters. (1.1) This equation states that a concentration gradient ∇u causes a flux j which aims to compensate for this gradient. Finally we shall discuss total variation image restoration techniques which permit discontinuous solutions. Then we may replace the diffusion tensor by a positive scalar-valued diffusivity g. a positive definite symmetric matrix. This physical observation can be easily cast in a mathematical formulation.

(F Kσ )(ω) = exp − |ω|2 . 1.1 Relations to Gaussian smoothing Gaussian smoothing Let a grey-scale image f be represented by a real-valued mapping f ∈ L1 (IR2 ). We shall focus on the relation between linear diffusion filtering and the convolution with a Gaussian.1. (1. analyse its smoothing properties for the image as well as its derivatives.4) where Kσ denotes the two-dimensional Gaussian of width (standard deviation) σ >0 : |x|2 1 · exp − 2 . and review the fundamental properties of the Gaussian scale-space induced by linear diffusion filtering.6) we obtain by the convolution theorem that (F (Kσ ∗f )) (ω) = (F Kσ )(ω) · (F f )(ω). Since the Fourier transform of a Gaussian is again Gaussian-shaped.7) .2.2 Linear diffusion filtering The simplest and best investigated PDE method for smoothing images is to apply a linear diffusion process. Afterwards a survey on discrete aspects is given and applications and limitations of the linear diffusion paradigm are discussed. A widely-used way to smooth f is by calculating the convolution (Kσ ∗f )(x) := Kσ (x−y) f (y) dy IR 2 (1. x ) dx (1. even if f is only absolutely integrable.8) (1. let us investigate the behaviour in the frequency domain. 2/σ 2 (1.2 LINEAR DIFFUSION FILTERING 3 1.5) Kσ (x) := 2πσ 2 2σ There are several reasons for the excellent smoothing properties of this method: First we observe that since Kσ ∈ C ∞ (IR2 ) we get Kσ ∗f ∈ C ∞ (IR2 ). The section is concluded by sketching two linear generalizations which can incorporate a-priori knowledge: affine Gaussian scale-space and directed diffusion processes. Next. When defining the Fourier transformation F by (F f )(ω) := IR2 f (x) exp(−i ω.

√ From (1. t) ≤ sup f 2 IR IR2 on IR2 × [0.11) we observe that the time t is related to the spatial width σ = 2t of the Gaussian. if it has a unique solution which depends continuously on the input data and parameters. 0) = f (x) possesses the solution u(x.4 CHAPTER 1.3 (c) in Chapter 5 illustrate the effect of linear diffusion filtering. PARTIAL DIFFERENTIAL EQUATIONS we observe that (1.2 (b) and 5. Gaussian derivatives In order to understand the structure of an image we have to analyse grey value fluctuations within a neighbourhood of each image point. 43–56]) that for any bounded f ∈ C(IR2 ) the linear diffusion process ∂t u = ∆u.14) Figure 5. differentiation is ill-posed1 .4) is a low-pass filter that attenuates high frequencies in a monotone way. provided we restrict ourselves to functions satisfying |u(x. pp. L∞ (IR2 ) . u(x. t)| ≤ M · exp (a|x|2 ) (M. Hence. (1. the smoothing behaviour can also be understood in the context of a PDE interpretation. ∞).9) (1. If one of these conditions is violated.12) and it (1. it is called ill-posed. [331. 1 . as small perturbations in the original image can lead to arbitrarily large fluctuations in the derivatives. (1.10) This solution is unique. Equivalence to linear diffusion filtering It is a classical result (cf. that is to say. (1. a > 0). . 267–271] and [185.g. we need information about its derivatives. A thorough A problem is called well-posed. pp.13) It depends continuously on the initial image f with respect to fulfils the maximum–minimum principle inf f ≤ u(x. the need for regularization methods arises. smoothing structures of order σ requires to stop the diffusion process at time 1 T = 2 σ2 . e. Hence.11) (1. However. Interestingly. t) = f (x) (K√2t ∗ f )(x) (t = 0) (t > 0).

177]. This evolution property is called causality [240]. This property has been used to stabilize ill-posed problems like deblurring images by solving the heat equation backwards in time2 [141. It is based on calculating the first derivatives of the Gaussian-smoothed image. we focus on two applications for detecting edges. Young developed this theory further by presenting evidence that the receptive fields in primate eyes are shaped like the sum of a Gaussian and its Laplacian [449]. By the equality n m n m n m ∂x1 ∂x2 (Kσ ∗f ) = Kσ ∗ (∂x1 ∂x2 f ) = (∂x1 ∂x2 Kσ ) ∗ f (1. which uses the Laplacian-of-Gaussian (LoG) ∆Kσ as convolution kernel. Moreover. After applying sophisticated thinning and linking mechanisms (non-maxima suppression and hysteresis thresholding). no new zero-crossings are created which cannot be traced back to finer scales [439].1. This method is often acknowledged to be the best linear edge detector. increasing the order of applied Gaussian derivatives or reducing the kernel size will finally deteriorate the results of deblurring. expressions that are invariant under transformations such as rotations. Louis [266] and Engl et al. A frequently used method is the Canny edge detector [69]. There are indications that LoGs and especially their approximation by differences-of-Gaussians (DoGs) play an important role in the visual system of mammals. It is Of course. junctions. If one investigates the temporal evolution of the zero-crossings of an image filtered by linear diffusion. ridges. [128]. 2 . for instance |∇Kσ ∗u| or ∆Kσ ∗u.15) for sufficiently smooth f . To illustrate this. Gaussian derivatives can be combined to so-called differential invariants. see [278] and the references therein. one observes an interesting phenomenon: When increasing the smoothing scale σ. Another important edge detector is the Marr–Hildreth operator [278]. One possibility to regularize is to convolve the image with a Gaussian prior to differentiation [404]. Replacing derivatives by these Gaussian derivatives has a strong regularizing effect. Edges of f are identified as zero-crossings of ∆Kσ ∗f .2 LINEAR DIFFUSION FILTERING 5 treatment of this mathematical theory can be found in the books of Tikhonov and Arsenin [402]. see [256] for an overview. edges are identified as locations where the gradient magnitude has a maximum. Differential invariants are useful for the detection of features such as edges. solutions of the regularization can only approximate the solution of the original problem (if it exists). and it has become a standard in edge detection. and blobs. we observe that all derivatives undergo the same Gaussian smoothing process as the image itself and this process is equivalent to convolving the image with derivatives of a Gaussian. This needs no further postprocessing and always gives closed contours. In practice. and Koenderink and van Doorn suggested the set of Gaussian derivatives as a general model for the visual system [242].

embedding the image f into a family {Tt f |t ≥ 0} of gradually simplified versions of it. the scalespace representation gives the original image f . nonenhancement of local extrema [30. This simplification property is specified by numerous authors in different ways. (1. using concepts such as no creation of new level curves (causality) [240.e. and the filtering may be split into a sequence of filter banks: T0 f = f. An important architectural assumption is recursivity. They concluded. by comparing the structures at different scales.6 CHAPTER 1. that this is practically unstable unless very much additional information is provided. 3 . decreasing number Recently it has also been proposed to extend the scale-space concept to scale–imprecision space by taking into account the imprecision of the measurement device [171]. Moreover. 1. PARTIAL DIFFERENTIAL EQUATIONS closely connected to the maximum–minimum principle of certain parabolic operators [189].17) This property is very often referred to as the semigroup property. In those cases where it is not clear in advance which is the right scale for the depicted information it is desirable to have an image representation at multiple scales.2 Scale-space properties The general scale-space concept It is a well-known fact that images usually contain structures at a large variety of scales. t ≥ 0. Other architectural principles comprise for instance regularity properties of Tt and local behaviour as t tends to 0. Most of these properties can be classified as architectural. we should not have additional structures which are caused by the filtering method itself and not by underlying structures at finer scales. In the western world the evolution property of the zero-crossings was the key investigation which has inspired Witkin to the so-called scale-space concept [439]. one obtains a hierarchy of image structures which eases a subsequent image interpretation.2. 255]. provided that it fulfils certain requirements3 . A scale-space is an image representation at a continuum of scales. Smoothing properties and information reduction arise from the wish that the transformation should not create artifacts when passing from fine to coarse representation. smoothing (information-reducing) or invariance requirements [12]. however. Tt+s f = Tt (Ts f ) ∀ s. Thus. Attempts to reconstruct the original image from the temporal evolution of the zero-crossings of the Laplacian have been carried out by Hummel and Moniot [190]. for t = 0. 450. at a coarse scale. i.16) (1. 189. 257]. This shall be discussed next.

preservation of positivity [191. in order to analyse only the depicted object [196.g. 193. and Lyapunov functionals [415. which is obtained via convolution with Gaussians of increasing variance.1. 303]. Thus.18) As we shall see below. Ishikawa and Imiya [426. maximum loss of figure impression [196]. σ] = 4 ′ ∞ −∞ φ{f (x′ ). x. 320]. This makes the requirement plausible that the scale-space analysis should be invariant to as many of these transformations as possible. In [192] Iijima considers an observation transformation Φ which depends on a scale parameter σ and which transforms the original image f (x) into a blurred version4 Φ[f (x′ ). positivity [324. 138]. (1.2 LINEAR DIFFUSION FILTERING 7 of local extrema [255]. Often these requirements are supplemented with an additional assumption which is equivalent to the superposition principle. imposing linearity restricts the scale-space idea to essentially one representative. x. We may regard an image as a representative of an equivalence class containing all images that depict the same object. 429]. (1. The pioneering work of Alvarez. Especially in the linear setting. 16]. x′ . b ∈ IR. ∀ a. however. σ]. comparison principle [12].19) The variable x′ serves as a dummy variable. namely linearity: Tt (af + bg) = a Tt f + b Tt g ∀ t ≥ 0. maximum–minimum principle [189. many of these properties are equivalent or closely related. translations and rotations or even more complicated transformations such as affine mappings. . Lions and Morel [12] shows that every scale-space fulfilling some fairly natural architectural. 427]. information-reducing and invariance axioms is governed by a PDE with the original image as initial condition. shows that scale-space is more than 20 years older: An axiomatic derivation of 1-D Gaussian scale-space has already been presented by Taizo Iijima in a technical paper from 1959 [191] followed by a journal version in 1962 [192]. Usually a 1983 paper by Witkin [439] or a 1980 report by Stansfield [392] are regarded as the first references to the linear scale-space idea. or – equivalently – by linear diffusion filtering according to (1. x. (1. This class of blurring transformations is called boke (defocusing). 328]. Gaussian scale-space The historically first and best investigated scale-space is the Gaussian scale-space. Tikhonov regularization [302. σ} dx′ . PDEs are the suitable framework for scale-spaces. see [426] for more details.10). by greylevel shifts. He assumes that it has the structure Φ[f (x ). Both papers are written in Japanese. Guichard. Two images of this class differ e.9). Recent work by Weickert.

σ2 = Φ[f (x′′ ). which is basically unknown in the western world. x. then the same should happen to the observed pattern: Φ[Af (x′ ). then this is equivalent to observing f under a suitable parameter σ3 = σ3 (σ1 . 200. σ]. x. σ] = A Φ[f (x′ ). and many results have . 320]. σ3 ]. x−a. σ]. x. x. 197. (1. Japanese scale-space theory was well-embedded in a general framework for pattern recognition. (1. σ] = Φ[f (x′ ). λ) such that Φ[f (x′ /λ). x. PARTIAL DIFFERENTIAL EQUATIONS and that it should satisfy five conditions: (I) Linearity (with respect to multiplications): If the intensity of a pattern becomes A times its original intensity. σ2 ): Φ Φ[f (x′′ ).25) Thus. x′ .24) Under these requirements Iijima derives in a very systematic way that 1 Φ[f (x ).20) (II) Translation invariance: Filtering a translated image is the same as translating the filtered image: Φ[f (x′ −a). σ] = √ 2 πσ ′ ∞ −∞ f (x′ ) exp −(x − x′ )2 4σ 2 dx′ . σ] > 0 ∀ f (x′ ) > 0. σ] is just the convolution between f and a Gaussian with standard √ deviation σ 2. σ] = Φ[f (x′ ). σ ′ ]. x. x. then the observed image is positive as well: Φ[f (x′ ).8 CHAPTER 1. σ1 ]. ∀ σ > 0. x.21) (III) Scale invariance: If a pattern is spatially enlarged by some factor λ. x/λ. x. (1. then there exists a σ ′ = σ ′ (σ. (1. Φ[f (x′ ). This has been the starting point of an entire world of linear scale-space research in Japan.23) (V) Preservation of positivity: If the original image is positive. feature extraction and object classification [195. (1.22) (IV) (Generalized) semigroup property: If f is observed under a parameter σ1 and this observation is observed under a parameter σ2 . (1.

All of these axiomatics use explicitly or implicitly5 a linearity assumption.2 N • L2 • • • • • • • N • F2 • • • • • • • • >1 • • • • • • 1. 427] as well as in some English scale-space papers by Iijima such as [195. [140]. In particular. Apart from their historical merits.1 presents an overview of the current Japanese and western Gaussian scale-space axiomatics (see [426. 198]. & isotropy separability scale invariance valid for dimension I1 • • I2 • • I3 O • K Y • • • • • • • • 1 • 2 • • • • 2 2 • 1.2 • • N 1 N N Table 1. [12]. convolution kernel semigroup property locality regularity infinetes. aver. [324].2 • • B • • • • • • 1 L1 • • • • • • F1 • • • A • • • • P • • • • • • • • 1. I3 = Iijima [196]. 194]. [303]. Table 1. as well as in English books by Lindeberg [256]. L1 = Lindeberg [255]. 5 .1.2 LINEAR DIFFUSION FILTERING 9 been established earlier than in the western world. A collection edited by Often it is assumed that the filter is a convolution integral. F1 = Florack et al. Y = Yuille/Poggio [450]. [30]. This is equivalent to linearity and translation invariance. Each of the 14 axiomatics confirms and enhances the evidence that the others give: that Gaussian scale-space is unique within a linear framework. generator max.1: Overview of continuous Gaussian scale-space axiomatics (I1 = Iijima [191. Florack [139]. and ter Haar Romeny [176]. O = Otsu [320]. 192]. P = Pauwels et al. grey level invar. More details can be found in [426. A = Alvarez et al. flat kernel for t → ∞ isometry invariance homogen. these Japanese results reveal many interesting qualities which should induce everyone who is interested in scale-space theory to have a closer look at them. 197]. the latter ones show that there is no justification to deny Iijima’s pioneering role in linear scale-space theory because of language reasons. 427] for detailed explanations). We observe that – despite the fact that many axiomatics reveal similar first principles – not two of them are identical. K = Koenderink [240]. A detailed treatment of Gaussian scale-space theory can be found in two Japanese monographs by Iijima [197. L2 = Lindeberg [257]. I2 = Iijima [193. loss principle causality nonnegativity Tikhonov regulariz. F2 = Florack [138]). N = Nielsen et al. B = Babaud et al.

By virtue of the equivalence of solving the linear diffusion equation and convolving with a Gaussian. who proposed in 1960 that the discrete analogue of the Gaussian kernel should be given in terms of modified Bessel functions of integer order. it has been argued that approximating the diffusion equation should be preferred to discretizing the convolution integral [255]. PARTIAL DIFFERENTIAL EQUATIONS Sporring. 448]. (1. More frequently the Gaussian kernel is just sampled and truncated at some multiple of its standard deviation σ. Recently. Since this scale-space family arises naturally from a semidiscretized version of the diffusion equation. Thus. 6 By semidiscrete we mean discrete in space and continuous in time throughout this work. which depends only on the pixel number N. but not on the kernel size σ. Many relations between Gaussian scale-space and regularization theory have been elaborated by Nielsen [302]. Florack and Johansen [389] gives an excellent overview of the various aspects of this theory. [353] exploits the relations between diffusion and Markov processes. we can either approximate the convolution process or the diffusion equation. Lindeberg [255] has established a linear scale-space theory for the semidiscrete6 case.and undershoots [178]. interesting semidiscrete and fully discrete linear scale-space formulations have been established utilizing stochastic principles: ˚str¨m and Heyden [27] A o study a framework based on stationary random fields.10 CHAPTER 1. however.2. and additional material is presented in [211]. 1. while the theory by Salden et al. His results are in accordance with those of Norman [312]. the image is sampled at the nodes (pixels) of a fixed equidistant grid. in practical problems. however.3 Numerical aspects The preceding theory is entirely continuous. Convolution with a truncated Gaussian. . and readers who wish to analyse linear and nonlinear scale-space concepts in terms of differential and integral geometry can find a lot of material in the thesis of Salden [351]. reveals the drawback that it does not preserve the semigroup property of the continuous Gaussian scale-space [255]. Factorizing a higher-dimensional Gaussian into one-dimensional Gaussians reduces the computational effort to O(Nσ). convolution in the spatial domain can be reduced to multiplication in the frequency domain. aliasing effects in the Fourier domain may create oscillations and over. Especially for small kernels.7). the diffusion filter has to be discretized. However. When restricting the image to a finite domain and applying the Fast Fourier Transformation (FFT). cf. This proceeding requires a fixed computational effort of order N log N. Nielsen. One efficient possibility to approximate Gaussian convolution in the spatial domain consists of applying recursive filters [109. For large kernels this is faster than most spatial techniques.

10. 214]. 7 . The idea is to identify segments at coarse scales and to link backwards to the original image in order to improve the localization. Less frequent are applications which exploit the evolution of an image under Gaussian scale-space. 67. The Gaussian pyramid [64] has the computational complexity O(N) and gives a multilevel representation at finitely many scales of different resolution. Due to their simplicity and efficiency. focus-of-attention).1. 254. 441]. and sometimes it is argued that they are undersampled and that the pyramid levels should be closer7 . explicit schemes are mainly used. 302. linear diffusion filtering has been applied in numerous fields of image processing and computer vision. 1. however. 313. optic flow and image sequences have become an active research field [139. Several scale-space applications are summarized in a survey paper by ter Haar Romeny [175]. Of course. 259. This deep structure analysis [240] provides useful information for extracting semantic information from an image.4 Applications Due to its equivalence to convolution with a Gaussian. for instance • for finding the most relevant scales (scale selection. 306. 256. 8 Historically. 106] are just designed to have few or no redundancies. finite difference (FD) schemes dominate the field. while scale-space analysis intends to extract semantical information by tracing signals through a continuum of scales. 258. 388] or generalized entropies [390] over scales. A very efficient approximation of the Gaussian scale-space results from applying multigrid ideas. pyramid decompositions have become very popular and have been integrated into commercially available hardware [70. It can be found in almost every standard textbook in these fields.2 LINEAR DIFFUSION FILTERING 11 Among the numerous numerical possibilities to approximate the linear diffusion equation. By subsequently smoothing the image with an explicit scheme for the diffusion equation and restricting the result to a coarser grid. In recent years also applications of Gaussian scale-space to stereo. Pyramids are not invariant under translations. 215. • for multiscale segmentation of images [172. this is incorrect: Iijima’s scale-space work [191] is much older than multigrid ideas in image processing. 68] allowing realizations as a recursive filter [14. multiresolution techniques such as pyramids or discrete wavelet transforms [92. Apart from some implicit approaches [166. one obtains a simplified image representation at the next coarser grid. 451]. 408].2. These are the reasons why some people regard pyramids rather as predecessors of the scale-space idea than as a numerical approximation8 . This may be done by searching for extrema of (nonlinear) combinations of normalized Gaussian derivatives [256] or by analysing information theoretic measures such as the entropy [208. 241.

So structures which are identified at a coarse scale do not give the right location and have to be traced back to the original image [439. Part III of the book edited by Sporring et al. (c) Some smoothing properties of Gaussian scale-space do not carry over from the 1-D case to higher dimensions: A closed zero-crossing contour can split into two as the scale increases [450]. Witkin [439]. This and other results [12. where the gradient vanishes and the Hessian does not have full rank. relating dislocated information obtained at different scales is difficult and bifurcations may give rise to instabilities.12 CHAPTER 1. for instance by analysing its toppoints [210]. Since Gaussian smoothing is designed to be completely uncommitted. A deep mathematical analysis of such phenomena has been carried out by Damon [105] and Rieger [342]. Regarding (b) and (c). 165]. There is some evidence that these points. These coarse-to-fine tracking difficulties are generally denoted as the correspondence problem. and it is generally not true that the number of local extrema is nonincreasing.2. makes them harder to identify. (b) Linear diffusion filtering dislocates edges when moving from finer to coarser scales. see [254. 353]: while the diffusion equation remains the correct concept. but also blurs important features such as edges and.g. In practice. it reveals some drawbacks as well: (a) An obvious disadvantage of Gaussian smoothing is the fact that it does not only smooth noise. Due to the uniqueness of Gaussian scale-space within a linear framework we know that any modification in order to overcome the problems (a)–(c) will either . PARTIAL DIFFERENTIAL EQUATIONS Interesting results arise when one studies linear scale-space on a sphere [236. 38. see e. 1. 255] indicate that the PDE formulation of linear scale-space in terms of a diffusion equation is more natural and has a larger generalization potential than convolution with Gaussians. it cannot take into account any a-priori information on structures which are worth being preserved (or even enhanced). much efforts have been spent in order to understand the deep structure in Gaussian scale-space.5 Limitations In spite of several properties that make linear diffusion filtering unique and easy to handle. but happens generically. thus. Gaussian kernels are of no use anymore: appropriate kernels have to be expressed in terms of Legendre functions [236]. 255] for illustrative counterexamples. It turned out that the pairwise creation of an extremum and a saddle point is not an exception. [389] and the references therein give an overview of the state-of-the-art in deep structure analysis. carry essential image information [212].

200]. (1.1. 443].2) of f . Later on similar ideas have been developed in [259. 1. t) := IR 2 −1 (x−y)⊤ Dt (x−y) exp − 4 4π det(Dt ) 1 f (y) dy (1. and D ∈ IR2×2 is symmetric positive definite9 .26) as a function of the structure tensor (cf. while the divergence formulation ensures that this is still possible for nonuniform diffusion filtering.27) the basic equation of figure [196].28) u(x. For a fixed matrix D. 194]. 207. In 1992 Nitzberg and Shiota [310] proposed to adapt the Gaussian kernel shape to the structure of the original image.6 Generalizations Before we turn our attention to nonlinear processes. In 1971 this concept was realized in hardware in the optical character reader ASPET/71 [199. In [427] it is shown that affine Gaussian scale-space has been axiomatically derived by Iijima in 1962 [193. He named u(x. they combined nonlinear shape adaptation with linear smoothing. 218]. and (1. The scale-space part has been regarded as the reason for its reliability and robustness. We shall see that appropriate methods to avoid the shortcomings (a) and (b) are nonlinear diffusion processes.1. Section 2.26) where Dt := tD. Affine Gaussian scale-space A straightforward generalization of Gaussian scale-space results from renouncing invariance under rotations. In practice this can be experienced by the fact that shape-adaptation of Gaussian smoothing does not preserve the average grey level. t) the generalized figure of f . let us first investigate two linear modifications which have been introduced in order to address the problems (a) and (b) from the previous section. while (c) requires morphological equations [206. t > 0. . This leads to the affine Gaussian scale-space u(x.26) is equivalent to solving a linear anisotropic diffusion problem with D as diffusion tensor: ∂t u = div (D ∇u). Also in this case the diffusion equation seems to be more general.2. By chosing D in (1. see Section 1. It should be noted that shape-adapted Gaussian smoothing with a spatially varying D is no longer equivalent to a diffusion process of type (1.27).2 LINEAR DIFFUSION FILTERING 13 renounce linearity or some scale-space properties. 0) = f (x). If one wants to relate 9 Isotropic Gaussian scale-space can be recovered using the unit matrix for D. calculating the convolution integral (1.27) (1.

29) (1.14 CHAPTER 1. one has to carry out sophisticated scaling limits [310]. by prescribing that features within a certain contrast and scale range are considered to be semantically important and processed differently. a corresponding PDE formulation was first given by Perona and Malik [326] in 1987.g.30) u(x.27) to the differential structure of the filtered image instead of the original image. in many applications it would be desirable to include a priori knowledge in a less specific way. This gives rise to study regularizations.3 Nonlinear diffusion filtering Adaptive smoothing methods are based on the idea of applying a process which itself depends on local properties of the image. These techniques can be extended to anisotropic processes which make use of an adapted diffusion tensor instead of a scalar diffusivity. (1. Numerical experiments have been carried out by Giuliani [159]. Provided we are given some background information in form of a smooth image b. and an analysis in terms of nonsmooth b and weak solutions is due to Illner and Tie [203].3 and in the remaining chapters of this book. Noniterative shape-adapted Gaussian smoothing differs from nonlinear anisotropic diffusion filtering by the fact that the latter one introduces a feedback into the process: it adapts the diffusion tensor in (1. especially its ill-posedness aspects. 1. We shall discuss this model in detail. . they show that under some technical requirements and suitable boundary conditions the classical solution u of ∂t u = b ∆u − u ∆b. Although this concept is wellknown in the image processing community (see [349] and the references therein for an overview). Such concepts will be investigated in Section 1.3. Directed diffusion Another method for incorporating a-priori knowledge into a linear diffusion process is suggested by Illner and Neunzert [202]. Such a directed diffusion process requires to specify an entire image as background information in advance. e. 0) = f (x) converges to b along a path where the relative entropy with respect to b increases in a monotone way. PARTIAL DIFFERENTIAL EQUATIONS shape-adapted Gaussian smoothing to a PDE. Such demands can be satisfied by nonlinear diffusion filters.

Moreover. This likelihood is measured by |∇u|2. and of backward parabolic type for |ux | > λ. 328].3 NONLINEAR DIFFUSION FILTERING 15 1. it should be noted that – in our terminology – it would be regarded as an isotropic model. (1.1 The Perona–Malik model Basic idea Perona and Malik propose a nonlinear diffusion method for avoiding the blurring and localization problems of linear diffusion filtering [326. This is due to the fact that diffusion and edge detection interact in one single process instead of being treated as two independent processes which are to be applied subsequently. For the diffusivity (1. there exists a relation between (1. This simplifies the notation and illustrates the main behaviour since near a straight edge a two-dimensional image approximates a function of one variable. see Figure 1. The experiments of Perona and Malik were visually very impressive: edges remained stable over a very long time. and Φ′ (s) < 0 for |s| > λ.32) (1. The Perona– Malik filter is based on the equation ∂t u = div (g(|∇u|2) ∇u). They apply an inhomogeneous process that reduces the diffusivity at those locations which have a larger likelihood to be edges. . since it utilizes a scalar-valued diffusivity and not a diffusion tensor.31) Although Perona and Malik name their filter anisotropic. let us for a moment restrict ourselves to the one-dimensional case.32) it follows that the flux function Φ(s) := sg(s2 ) satisfies ′ Φ (s) ≥ 0 for |s| ≤ λ. there is another reason for the impressive behaviour at edges. Edge enhancement To study the behaviour of the Perona–Malik filter at edges. which we shall discuss next. and it uses diffusivities such as g(s2) = 1 1 + s2 /λ2 (λ > 0). Since (1.1.31) can be rewritten as ∂t u = Φ′ (ux )uxx . It was demonstrated [328] that edge detection based on this process clearly outperforms the linear Canny edge detector.33) we observe that – in spite of its nonnegative diffusivity – the Perona–Malik model is of forward parabolic type for |ux | ≤ λ.1. even without applying non-maxima suppression and hysteresis thresholding. Interestingly.3.31) and the neural dynamics of brightness perception: In 1984 Cohen and Grossberg [94] proposed a model of the primary visual cortex with similar inhibition effects as in the Perona–Malik model. (1.

we have forward diffusion along isophotes (i.35) where the gauge coordinates ξ and η denote the directions perpendicular and parallel to ∇u. Therefore. In the two-dimensional case.16 1 CHAPTER 1. Overviews of several common diffusivities for the Perona–Malik model can be found in [43.34) A location x0 where u2 is maximal at some time t is characterized by ux uxx = 0 x and ux uxxx ≤ 0. PARTIAL DIFFERENTIAL EQUATIONS 0. and a family of diffusivities with different decay rates is investigated in [36]. respectively. Hence.33) is replaced by [12] ∂t u = Φ′ (∇u)uηη + g(|∇u|2)uξξ (1. λ plays the role of a contrast parameter separating forward (low contrast) from backward (high contrast) diffusion areas.32). lines of constant grey value) combined with forward–backward diffusion along flowlines (lines of maximal grey value variation). It is not hard to verify that the Perona–Malik filter increases the slope at inflection points of edges within a backward area: If there exists a sufficiently smooth solution u it satisfies ∂t (u2 ) = 2ux ∂x (ut ) = 2Φ′′ (ux )ux u2 + 2Φ′ (ux )ux uxxx. Rapidly decreasing diffusivities are explicitly intended in the Perona–Malik method as they .36) (1. (∂t (u2 )) (x0 .6 diffusivity flux function 0 0 lambda 0 0 lambda Figure 1. 343]. t) ≥ 0 for |ux (x0 .1: (a) Left: Diffusivity g(s2 ) = 1+s1 /λ2 . (1.e. 2 Hence. (b) Right: Flux function 2 Φ(s) = 1+ss /λ2 . it appears for all diffusivities g(s2 ) whose rapid decay causes non-monotone flux functions Φ(s) = sg(s2 ). x xx (1. We observe that the forward–backward diffusion behaviour is not only restricted to the special diffusivity (1. t)| > λ x with strict inequality for ux uxxx < 0.

∇u. r. v ∈ H. r.e. for instance adapting it to a specified quantile in the cumulative gradient histogramme [328]. Let us recall three examples: • Let S(N) denote the set of symmetric N × N matrices and Hess(u) the Hessian of u. (Au−Av. It is evident that the “optimal” value for the contrast parameter λ has to depend on the problem. Ill-posedness Unfortunately.37) satisfies the monotony property F (t. Several proposals have been made to facilitate such a choice in practice.39) (1.) and A : H → H . (1. u.40) (1. using statistical properties of a training set of regions which are considered as flat [444]. In order to apply the concept of maximal monotone operators [57] to the problem du + Au = 0. X) for all X. x. i. Therefore.38) . Ishii and Lions [103]. Y ∈ S(2) where Y −X is positive semidefinite. • The same requirement is needed for applying the theory of viscosity solutions. x. A detailed introduction into this framework can be found in a paper by Crandall. Classical differential inequality techniques [411] based on the Nagumo–Westphal lemma require that the underlying nonlinear evolution equation ∂t u = F (t. dt u(0) = f one has to ensure that A is monotone. . x..41) (1.3 NONLINEAR DIFFUSION FILTERING 17 give the desirable result of blurring small fluctuations and sharpening edges. p. they are the main reason for the visually impressive results of this restoration technique. u−v) ≥ 0 ∀ u. or estimating it by means of the local image geometry [270]. forward–backward equations of Perona–Malik type cause some theoretical problems. p. Y ) ≥ F (t.1. • Let H be a Hilbert space with scalar product (. there exist certain frameworks which allow to establish well-posedness results for a large class of equations. Although there is no general theory for nonlinear parabolic processes. Hess(u)) (1.

If they exist. the mainly observable instability is the so-called staircasing effect. however. . Numerically. In the meantime several theoretical results are available which provide some insights into the actual degree of ill-posedness of the Perona–Malik filter. In 1994 the general conjecture was that the Perona–Malik filter might have weak solutions. Kawohl and Kutev [222] proved that the Perona–Malik process does not have global (weak) C 1 solutions for intial data that involve backward diffusion. Therefore. none of these frameworks is applicable to ensure wellposedness results. Kawohl and Kutev showed that these solutions are unique and satisfy a maximum-minimum principle. 225] proposed a notion of generalized solutions. and he showed that an analysis of their moving and merging gives similar effects to those one can observe in practice. and slightly different initial images may end up in different minima for t → ∞. Starting from a smoothly increasing initial distribution he reported the creation of perturbations which led to a stepwise constant profile after some time. forward–backward diffusion equations of Perona–Malik type are not as unnatural as they look at first glance: besides their importance in computer vision they have been proposed as a mathematical model for heat and mass transfer in a stably stratified turbulent shear flow. The existence of local C 1 solutions remained unproven. which are piecewise linear and contain jumps. He constructed a forward– o backward diffusion process which can have infinitely many solutions. Such a model is used to explain the evolution of stepwise constant temperature or salinity profiles in the ocean. They showed that the energy functional leading to the Perona–Malik process as steepest descent method has an infinite number of global minima which are dense in the image space. One reason why people became pessimistic about the well-posedness of the Perona–Malik equation was a result by H¨llig [187].18 CHAPTER 1. PARTIAL DIFFERENTIAL EQUATIONS We observe that the nonmonotone flux function of the Perona–Malik process implies that neither (1. Interestingly. Although this process was different from the Perona–Malik process. Kichenassamy [224. Related equations also play a role in population dynamics and viscoelasiticity. where a sigmoid edge evolves into piecewise linear segments which are separated by jumps. [446] give evidence that the Perona–Malik process is unstable with respect to perturbations of the initial image. but one should neither expect uniqueness nor stability [329].38) is satisfied nor A defined by Au := −div (g(|∇u|2) ∇u) is monotone. one was warned what can happen. Moreover. He used an equation of Perona–Malik type for numerical simulations of the salinity profiles in oceans. see [35] and the references therein. It has already been observed by Posmentier in 1977 [333]. under special assumptions on the initial data. Each of these minima corresponds to a piecewise constant image. it was possible to establish a comparison principle. Results of You et al.

3 NONLINEAR DIFFUSION FILTERING 19 In image processing. Of course. this is only partly satisfying. Florack [143] and Eberly [124] proposed to carry over the linear scale-space theory to the nonlinear case by considering nonlinear diffusion . a natural way would be to prove a maximum–minimum principle. Instead of this. standard FD discretizations are monotonicity preserving. Further contributions to the explanation and avoidance of staircasing can be found in [4. Fr¨hlich and Weickert [148]. Its global solution satisfies a maximum–minimum principle and converges to a constant steady-state. 225. This has been shown by Dzu Magaziewa [123] in the semidiscrete case and by Benhamouda [36. Since the existence question used to be the bottleneck in the past. the first proof is due to Kawohl and Kutev who established an extremum principle for their local weak C 1 solution to the Perona–Malik filter [222]. The theoretical framework for this analysis will be presented in Chapter 3. All results point in the same direction: the number of created plateaus depends strongly on the regularizing effect of the discretization. 36. as they guarantee that structures can be detected easily and correspondence problems can be neglected. Scale-space interpretation Perona and Malik renounced the assumption of Koenderink’s linear scale-space axiomatic [240] that the smoothing should treat all spatial points and scale levels equally. which guarantees that no additional oscillations occur during the evolution. There exists also a discrete explanation why staircasing is essentially the only observable instability: In 1-D. since in scale-space theory one is interested in having an extremum principle for the entire time interval [0. ∞).1. 438]. In order to establish a smoothing scale-space property for this nonlinear diffusion process. 425] in the fully discrete case with an explicit time discretization. also other attempts to apply scale-space frameworks to the Perona– Malik process have not been more successful yet: • Salden [350]. Finer discretizations are less regularizing and lead to more “stairs”. 98. Experiments demonstrated that the Perona–Malik filter satisfies these requirements fairly well [328]. Weickert and Benhamouda [425] showed that the regularizing effect of a standard finite difference discretization is sufficient to turn the Perona–Malik filter into a well-posed initial value problem for a nonlinear system of ordinary differential equations. These properties are of significant practical interest. and Benhamouda o [36]. and that intra-region smoothing should be preferred to inter-region smoothing (piecewise smoothing). provided one knows that there exists a sufficiently smooth solution. Nevertheless. numerical studies of the staircasing effect have been carried out by Nitzberg and Shiota [310]. they required that region boundaries should be sharp and should coincide with the semantically meaningful boundaries at each resolution level (immediate localization).

43) In [81] existence. This process has been analysed and modified in many ways: Whitaker and Pizer [438] have suggested that the regularization parameter σ should be .20 CHAPTER 1. 1. (1. However. A mathematically sound formulation of this idea is given by Catt´. Guichard. Below we shall discuss three examples which illustrate the variety of possibilities and their tailoring towards a specific task. Hence. e 2 Morel and Coll [81].5 and 1. Unfortunately. but not for all t > 0. (a) The first spatial regularization attempt is probably due to Posmentier who observed numerically the stabilizing effect of averaging the gradient within the diffusivity [333]. Lions. One can apply spatial or temporal regularization (and of course. the Perona–Malik filter turned out not to belong to this class [143]. it has been suggested to introduce the regularization directly into the continuous equation in order to become more independent of the numerical implementation [81. a combination of both). PARTIAL DIFFERENTIAL EQUATIONS processes which result from special rescalings of the linear one.3. • Alvarez. 310]. one should adjust the regularization to the desired goal of the forward– backward heat equation [35].2 Regularized nonlinear models It has already been mentioned that numerical schemes may provide implicit regularizations which stabilize the Perona–Malik process [425]. uniqueness and regularity of a solution for σ > 0 have been established.42) This property is closely related to a maximum–minimum principle and to L∞ -stability of the solution [12.6). Their smoothing axiom is a monotony assumption (comparison principle) requiring that the scale-space is order-preserving: f ≤ g =⇒ Tt f ≤ Tt g ∀ t ≥ 0. 261]. the Perona–Malik model does not fit into this framework. because its local weak solution satisfies a comparison principle only for some finite time. Lions and Morel [12] have developed a nonlinear scalespace axiomatic which comprises the linear scale-space theory as well as nonlinear morphological processes (which we will discuss in 1. see [222]. By replacing the diffusivity g(|∇u| ) of the Perona– Malik model by a Gaussian-smoothed version g(|∇uσ |2 ) with uσ := Kσ ∗ u they end up with ∂t u = div (g(|∇uσ |2 ) ∇u). Since the dynamics of the solution may critically depend on the sort of regularization. (1.

and Li and Chen [252] have proposed to subsequently decrease the contrast parameter λ. Spatial regularizations of the Perona–Malik process leading to anisotropic diffusion equations have been proposed by Weickert [413. Therefore. it exhibits besides the contrast parameter λ an additional noise scale σ. These equations arise as a special case of the spatio-temporal regularizations of Nitzberg and Shiota [310] when neglecting any spatial regularization.44) (1.1.4 (a). We observe that v is intended as a time-delay regularization of |∂x u|2 where the parameter τ > 0 determines the delay. . Examples for spatially regularized nonlinear diffusion filtering can be found in Figure 5. Kaˇur and Mikula [217] have investigated a modificac tion which allows to diffuse differently in different grey value ranges.43) as an image restoration equation.(b). (b) P. This avoids a shortcoming of the genuine Perona–Malik process which misinterprets strong oscillations due to noise as edges which should be preserved or even enhanced. ∂t v = 1 τ (1.3.3 NONLINEAR DIFFUSION FILTERING 21 a decreasing function in t. when regarding (1. 415] and will be described in 1.46) 10 This renounces invariance under rotation. Mumford conjectures that this model gives piecewise constant steady-states. Torkamani–Azar and Tait [403] suggest to replace the Gaussian convolution by the exponential filter of Shen and Castan10 [381]. A detailed study of the influence of the parameters in a regularized Perona–Malik model has been carried out by Benhamouda [36].-L. the steady-state solution would solve a segmentation problem. (c) In the context of shear flows.3. In Chapter 2 we shall see that spatial regularizations lead to well-posed scalespaces with a large class of Lyapunov functionals which guarantee that the solution converges to a constant steady-state. spatial regularizations offer the advantage that they make the filter insensitive to noise at scales smaller than σ. Lions proved in a private communication to Mumford that the onedimensional process ∂t u = ∂x (g(v) ∂x u). [329]). Barenblatt et al. [35] regularized the onedimensional forward–backward heat equation by considering the third-order equation ∂t u = ∂x (Φ(ux )) + τ ∂xt (Ψ(ux )) (1.2 (c) and 5. In this case.45) (|∂x u| −v) 2 leads to a well-posed filter (cf. From a practical point of view.

11 An exception is the time-delay regularization of Cottet and El-Ayyadi [100. Anisotropic diffusion filters usually apply spatial regularization strategies11 . 1. First anisotropic ideas in image processing date back to Graham [167] in 1962. Nevertheless. before they finally converge to a piecewise constant steady-state. The first one offers advantages at noisy edges. These requirements cannot be satisfied by a scalar diffusivity anymore.3. a diffusion tensor leading to anisotropic diffusion filters has to be introduced. respectively. This regularization was physically motivated by introducing a relaxation time τ into the diffusivity. PARTIAL DIFFERENTIAL EQUATIONS where Ψ is strictly increasing and uniformly bounded in IR. These examples demonstrate that regularization is much more than stabilizing an ill-posed process: Regularization is modeling. They used convolution masks that depended on the underlying image structure. Zucker and Rosenfeld [250]. . whereas the second one is well-adapted to the processing of one-dimensional features. They are called edge-enhancing anisotropic diffusion and coherence-enhancing anisotropic diffusion. Therefore. followed by Newman and Dirilten [300]. A general theoretical framework for spatially regularized anisotropic diffusion filters will be presented in the remaining chapters of this book. 101]. These ideas have been further developed by Nitzberg and Shiota [310].6. Their suggestion to use shape-adapted Gaussian masks has been discussed in Section 1. Appropriately chosen regularizations create the desired filter features. Lindeberg and G˚ arding [259]. in certain applications it would be desirable to bias the flux towards the orientation of interesting features. Below we study two representatives of anisotropic diffusion processes. [443]. We observe that spatial regularizations are closer to scale-space ideas while temporal regularization are more related to image restoration and segmentation. and Nagao and Matsuyama [297]. since they may lead to nontrivial steady-states. they are isotropic and the flux j = −g∇u is always parallel to ∇u. They also showed that smooth solutions may become discontinuous within finite time.2. and |Φ′ (s)| = O(Ψ′(s)) as s → ±∞. For the corresponding initial boundary value problem with homogeneous Neumann boundary conditions they proved the existence of a unique generalized solution.22 CHAPTER 1. Wilson and Granlund [237]. and Yang et al. Lev. Related statistical approaches were proposed by Knutsson.3 Anisotropic nonlinear models All nonlinear diffusion filters that we have investigated so far utilize a scalar-valued diffusivity g which is adapted to the underlying image structure.

Therefore. we end up with the isotropic Perona–Malik process. the process stops completely. (1. we observe that ∇u becomes an eigenvector of D with corresponding eigenvalue 0. If we let the regularization parameter σ tend to 0. ∇u does not coincide with one of the eigenvectors of D as long as σ > 0. Well-posedness . For σ → 0.43) behaves almost like the linear diffusion filter (1. To this end. Therefore. we construct the orthonormal system of eigenvectors v1 .47) In order to prefer smoothing along the edge to smoothing across it. Another anisotropic model which can be regarded as a regularization of an isotropic nonlinear diffusion filter has been described in [413]. λ2 (∇uσ ) := η|∇uσ | 1 + (|∇uσ |/σ)2 2 (1.9). (b) Anisotropic models for smoothing one-dimensional objects A second motivation for introducing anisotropy into diffusion processes arises from the wish to process one-dimensional features such as line-like structures. Hence.1.47) and corresponding eigenvalues λ1 (∇uσ ) := 0. Cottet and Germain [102] constructed a diffusion tensor with eigenvectors as in (1.3 NONLINEAR DIFFUSION FILTERING 23 (a) Anisotropic regularization of the Perona–Malik process In the interior of a segment the nonlinear isotropic diffusion equation (1.48) (1. but also its direction.50) (η > 0). v2 of the diffusion tensor D such that they reflect the estimated edge structure: v1 ∇uσ . this model behaves really anisotropic. v2 ⊥ ∇uσ . (1. To overcome this problem. a desirable method should prefer diffusion along edges to diffusion perpendicular to them. To this end.49) Section 5. noise at edges cannot be eliminated successfully by this process. but at edges diffusion is inhibited.1 presents several examples where this process is applied to test images. λ2 (∇uσ ) := 1. In this sense. (1.51) This is a process diffusing solely perpendicular to ∇uσ . In general. Anisotropic models do not only take into account the modulus of the edge detector ∇uσ . it is not intended as an anisotropic regularization of the Perona–Malik equation. Weickert [415] proposed to choose the corresponding eigenvalues λ1 and λ2 as λ1 (∇uσ ) := g(|∇uσ |2 ).

which shall be discussed in Section 5. The edge detector ∇uσ enables us to adapt the diffusion to magnitude and direction of edges. A generalization c of coherence-enhancing anisotropic diffusion to higher dimensions is proposed in [428]. Feature vectors play an important role for tasks like texture segmentation. multi-spectral Landsat exposures and multi-spin echo MR images. one can improve this model when replacing ∇u⊥ σ by a more robust descriptor of local orientation. .2. the structure tensor (cf. It has also been proposed to replace ∇uσ by a Bayesian classification result in feature space [26]. It is easily seen that many of the previous results can be generalized to higher dimensions.g.24 CHAPTER 1. 418]. Examples for the first category are colour images. The first three-dimensional nonlinear diffusion filters have been investigated by Gerig et al.2). one can steer the smoothing process by more advanced structure descriptors such as higher-order derivatives [127] or tensorvalued expressions of first-order derivatives [414. Section 2. For enhancing parallel line-like structures. or when applying diffusion filters to the postprocessing of fluctuating higher-dimensional numerical data. Vector-valued images can arise either from devices measuring multiple physical properties or from a feature analysis of one single image.3. Since the Cottet–Germain model diffuses only in one direction. medical image sequences from computerized tomography (CT) or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). PARTIAL DIFFERENTIAL EQUATIONS results for the Cottet–Germain filter comprise an existence proof for weak solutions. Vector-valued models. [355] describe nonlinear diffusion filtering of 3-D a image sequences by treating them as 4-D data sets. [155] in the isotropic case and by Rambaux and Gar¸on [339] in the anisotropic case. As a remedy. More sophisticated structure descriptors. The theoretical analysis in the present work shall comprise the second possibility. and S´nchez–Ortiz et al. 1. but it can neither distinguish between edges and corners nor does it give a reliable measure of local orientation.4 Generalizations Higher dimensions. it is clear that its result depends very much on the smoothing direction. This leads to coherence-enhancing anisotropic diffusion [418]. where also many examples can be found. whereas representatives of the second class are given by statistical moments or the jet space induced by the image itself and its partial derivatives up to a given order. This may be useful when considering e.

since they are easy to handle and the pixel structure of digital images already provides a natural discretization on a fixed rectangular grid. see also [349] for related ideas. [155. Neural network approximations to nonlinear diffusion filters are investigated by Cottet [100. They possess much better stability properties. B¨nsch and a Mikula reported a significant speed-up by supplementing them with an adaptive mesh coarsening [34]. [158].3 NONLINEAR DIFFUSION FILTERING 25 The simplest idea how to apply diffusion filtering to multichannel images would be to diffuse all channels separately and independently from each other. 391. 99] and Fischl and Schwartz [137]. 434] in the context of medical imagery. it seems to be a matter of taste which scheme is preferred. 1. it is often desirable to have a genuinely discrete theory which guarantees that an algorithm exactly reveals the same qualitative properties as its continuous counterpart. a pseudospectral method and a finite-difference scheme. they are well-suited for parallel architectures. This leads to the undesirable effect that edges may be formed at different locations for each channel. 34.1. 4]. While the preceding techniques are focusing on approximating a continuous equation. Perona and Malik [327] propose hardware realizations by means of analogue VLSI networks with nonlinear resistors. therefore. A fast multigrid technique using a pyramid algorithm for the Perona–Malik filter has been studied by Acton et al. Most implementations of nonlinear diffusion filters are based on finite difference methods. one should use a common diffusivity which combines information from all channels. Semi-implicit schemes – which approximate the diffusivity or the diffusion tensor in an explicit way and the rest implicitly – are considered in [81]. It turned out that all results became fairly similar. 421]. 156] and Whitaker [433. In [148] three schemes for a spatially regularized 1-D Perona–Malik filter are compared: a wavelet method of Petrov–Galerkin type. Due to their local behaviour. when the regularization parameter σ was sufficiently large. In order to avoid this.3.5 Numerical aspects For nonlinear diffusion filtering numerous numerical methods have been applied: Finite element techniques are described in [367. [5. Extensions to anisotropic vector-valued models with a common tensorvalued structure descriptor for all channels have been investigated by Weickert [422]. Explicit schemes are the most simple to code and. A very detailed VLSI proposal has been developed by Gijbels et al. Nevertheless. both for the semidiscrete . they are used almost exclusively. they suffer from the fact that fairly small time step sizes are needed in order to ensure stability. Such isotropic vector-valued diffusion models were studied by Gerig et al. Such a framework is presented in [420. 216]. Since the computational effort is of a comparable order of magnitude.

26 CHAPTER 1. are 0 positive nonnegative semidefinite off-diagonals uniformly pos. pos. conservation. 415]. and convergence to a constant steady-state [423]. A detailed treatment of this theory can be found in Chapter 3 and 4. 1. symmetry. they are about 10 times more efficient than the widely used explicit schemes. and a speed-up by another order of magnitude can be achieved by a parallel implementation [431]. diagonal smoothness symmetry conservation nonnegativity connectivity and for the fully discrete case. They have proved to be useful for improving subsampling [144] and line detection [156. These criteria are easy to check for many discretizations.2: Requirements for continuous. average grey value invariance. 413. Table 1.4. 418]. In particular. respectively. column sums reflective b. n = 0 D ∈ C∞ A Lipschitzcontinuous D symmetric A symmetric div form. and for enhancing textures such as fingerprints [418].3. Under typical accuracy requirements. causality in terms of an extremum principle and Lyapunov functionals. it turns out that suitable explicit and semi-implicit finite difference discretizations of many discussed models create discrete scale-spaces.6 Applications Nonlinear diffusion filters have been applied for postprocessing fluctuating data [269. 418].2.2 gives an overview of the requirements which are needed in order to prove well-posedness. nonnegativity and connectivity requirements. for visualizing quality-relevant features in computer aided quality control [299. semidiscrete and fully discrete nonlinear diffusion scale-space. requirement continuous semidiscrete ut = div (D∇u) du = A(u)u dt u(t = 0) = f u(0) = f D∇u. irreducible definite discrete u0 = f uk+1 = Q(uk )uk Q continuous Q symmetric column sums are 1 nonnegative elements irreducible. The discrete nonlinear scale-space concept has also led to the development of fast novel schemes. 430].c. PARTIAL DIFFERENTIAL EQUATIONS Table 1. We observe that the requirements belong to five categories: smoothness. A general framework for AOS schemes will be presented in Section 4. for blind image restoration [445]. for scale-space based segmentation algorithms . which are based on an additive operator splitting (AOS) [424.

200 First Street SW. This idea connects diffusion methods to edge detection and segmentation ideas. 387]. Cost terms of these three types are typical for variational image restoration methods. 270. 1] gives a fuzzy edge representation: in the interior of a region. The corresponding Euler equations to this energy functional are given by 0 = β ·(u−f ) − div (w∇u). 5]. 264.52) The parameters β and λ are positive weights and w : Ω → [0. w is close to 0 (as we shall see below). U.54) + |∇u| . 248. 321.1 Single diffusion–reaction equations Nordstr¨m [311] has suggested to obtain a reconstruction u of a degraded image o f by minimizing the energy functional Ef (u. 308. 251. Their discussion. 444]. 355. 247. w) := Ω β ·(u−f )2 + w·|∇u|2 + λ2 ·(w−ln w) dx. in which diffusion–reaction equations or coupled systems of them are interpreted as steepest descent minimizers of suitable energy functionals. 2 Analyze is a registered trademark of Mayo Medical Ventures. Besides such specific problem solutions. MN 55905. 1. 437. and for target tracking in infrared images [65]. Some of these applications will be investigated in more detail in Chapter 5.12 1. 0 = λ 2 1 ·(1− w ) (1. nonlinear diffusion filters can be found in commercial software packages such as the medical visualization tool Analyze. 28. Besides the variational interpretation there exist other interesting theoretical frameworks for diffusion filters such as the Markov random field and mean field annealing context [152.4. 153. for segmentation of textures [433. 29.4 METHODS OF DIFFUSION–REACTION TYPE 27 [307. Most applications. Rochester. are concerned with the filtering of medical images [26.A.1. would lead us beyond the scope of this book. however. w approaches 1 while at edges.S. 437] and remotely sensed data [6. The first summand of E punishes deviations of u from f (deviation cost). however.53) (1. the second term detects unsmoothness of u within each region (stabilizing cost). 328. robust statistics [41]. 155. and deterministic interactive particle models [279]. 308]. and the last one measures the extend of edges (edge cost). 434.4 Methods of diffusion–reaction type This section investigates variational frameworks. 393. 431. 12 . (1. 386. 244.

Diffusion–reaction methods with constant diffusivities have also been used for local contrast normalization in images [330].28 CHAPTER 1. 1 + |∇u|2/λ2 (1.32). A popular possibility to avoid these ill-posedness and convergence problems is to renounce edge-enhancing diffusivities in order to end up with (nonquadratic) convex functionals [43. Similar difficulties may also arise in other diffusion–reaction models. 111] and stereo problems [343]. to SPECT [88] and vascular reconstruction in medical imaging [102. They can be extended to vector-valued images [369] and to corner-preserving smoothing of curves [136. where convergence results have not yet been established [152. and the process (1. Nordstr¨m’s method may suffer from the same ill-posedness problems as the o underlying Perona–Malik equation.57) is nonconvex. to the restoration of inverse scattering images [263]. 88. Therefore. Solving (1. it can possess numerous local minima. People interested in image restoration usually prefer the reaction term. 110.54) for w gives w= 1 . (1. 323]. 325]. However.56) This equation can also be obtained directly as the descent method of the functional Ff (u) := Ω β ·(u−f )2 + λ2 ·ln 1+ |∇u| λ2 2 dx. (1. ensuring well-posedness and stability of a standard finite-element approximation [367]. One of Nordstr¨m’s motivations for introo ducing this term was to free the user from the difficulty of specifying an appropriate stopping time for the Perona–Malik process. Therefore. In this case the frameworks of convex optimization and monotone operators are applicable.56) consists of the Perona–Malik process with an additional bias term β ·(f −u).55) We recognize that w is identical with the Perona–Malik diffusivity g(|∇u|2) introduced in (1. PARTIAL DIFFERENTIAL EQUATIONS equipped with a homogeneous Neumann boundary condition for u. 186].53) can be regarded as the steady-state equation of ∂t u = div (g(|∇u|2) ∇u) + β(f −u). 391]. it is evident that the Nordstr¨m model just shifts the problem of o specifying a stopping time T to the problem of determining β. So it seems to be a matter of taste which formulation is preferred. .57) The diffusion–reaction equation (1. and to optic flow [368.56) with f as initial condition does not necessarily converge to a global minimum. Diffusion–reaction approaches have been applied to edge detection [367. and it is not hard to verify that the energy functional (1. 391]. while for scale-space researchers it is more natural to have a constant steady-state as the simplest image representation. (1. 367.

the problem that sigmoid-like edges produce multiple segmentation boundaries (oversegmentation.58) is investigated in [32.4 METHODS OF DIFFUSION–REACTION TYPE 29 1. The Mumford–Shah functional can be regarded as a continuous version of the Markov random field method of Geman and Geman [154] and the weak membrane model of Blake and Zisserman [42]. Although the existence of a global minimizer with a closed edge set K has been established [108.58) with nonnegative parameters α and β. 48. uniqueness is in general not true [292.52). The discontinuity set K consists of the edges.g. Regularity results for K in terms of (at least) C 1 -arcs have recently been obtained [18.g. The concept of energy functionals for segmenting images offers the practical advantage that it provides a framework for comparing the quality of two segmentations.4. In order to avoid such problems. 239]. e. 17]. one searches for fast (suboptimal) deterministic strategies.58) exhibits also some shortcomings.1. 20. 19. Numerical complications arise from the fact that the Mumford–Shah functional has numerous local minima. (1. On the other hand. . 107]. modifications of the Mumford–Shah functional have been proposed by Shah [379]. Global minimizers such as the simulated annealing method used by Geman and Geman [154] are extremely slow. Since many algorithms in image processing can be restated as versions of the Mumford–Shah functional [292] and since it is a prototype of a free discontinuity problem it is instructive to study this variational problem in more detail. and a Mumford–Shah functional for curves can be found in [323].2 Coupled systems of diffusion–reaction equations Mumford and Shah [295. the second one gives the stabilizing cost. The book of Morel and Solimini [292] covers a very detailed analysis of this functional. and the third one represents the edge cost. An affine invariant generalization of (1. staircasing effect) [377]. The fact that (1. 296] have proposed to obtain a segmented image u from f by minimizing the functional Ef (u. Hence. pyramidal region-growing algorithms [3. 31] and applied to affine invariant texture segmentation [31. this expression consists of three cost terms: o the first one is the deviation cost.58) leads to a free discontinuity problem causes many challenging theoretical questions [249]. 197–198]. e. K) = β Ω (u−f )2 dx + Ω\K |∇u|2 dx + α|K| (1. 49. Related approaches are also used to model materials with two phases and a free interface. 33]. Like the Nordstr¨m functional (1. Another drawback results from the fact that the Mumford–Shah functional allows only singularities which are typical for minimal surfaces: Corners or T-junctions are not possible and segments meet at triple points with 120o angle [296]. and its one-dimensional Hausdorff measure |K| gives the total edge length. pp.

60) resembles the Nordstr¨m o process (1. 335.61) ∂t w = c∆w − + (1−w) 4c with homogeneous Neumann boundary conditions.58) by two coupled convex energy functionals and applies gradient descent.56). Proesmans et al. this approach gives rise to the same theoretical questions as (1. 440] and halftoning [382]. which is close to 0 near edges of u and which approximates 1 elsewhere. w) := Ω β ·(u−f )2 + w 2 ·|∇u|2 + α· c|∇w|2 + (1−w) 4c 2 dx (1. Well-posedness results for this system have not been obtained up to now. Since (1.59) with a positive parameter c specifying the “edge width”. Shah investigates diffusion–reaction systems for matching stereo images [378]. They are based on Turing’s pattern formation model [405].60). similar problems can arise: The functional Ff is not jointly convex in u and v. Related equations are also studied in [398]. Minimizing Ff corresponds to the gradient descent equations ∂t u = div (w 2 ∇u) + β ·(f −u). vector-valued images and stereo vision [336. while Proesmans et al.30 CHAPTER 1. This results in finding an equilibrium state between two competing processes. Another diffusion–reaction system is studied by Shah [375. Their finite difference algorithms run on a parallel transputer network. Of course. 376]. texture generation [406. He replaces the functional (1. Ambrosio and Tortorelli proved that this functional converges to the Mumford–Shah functional for c → 0 (in the sense of Γ-convergence. They obtained pronounced edges by replacing such a term by its Perona–Malik counterpart div (g(|∇u|2) ∇u).61). We may for instance study the functional Ff (u. 336] observed that this solution looks fairly blurred since the equations contain diffusion terms such as ∆u.60) (1. . but a maximum–minimum principle and a local stability proof have been established. PARTIAL DIFFERENTIAL EQUATIONS Another important class of numerical methods is based on the idea to approximate the discontinuity set K by a smooth function w. Equations of this type are investigated by Richardson and Mitter [341]. It should also be mentioned that there exist reaction–diffusion systems which have been applied to image restoration [334. apply coupled diffusion-reaction equations to image sequence analysis. see [22] for more details). The system of Richardson and Mitter is used for edge detection [341]. [337. so it may have many local minima and a gradient descent algorithm may get trapped in a poor local minimum. 382]. and which are not connected to Perona–Malik or Mumford– Shah ideas. Experiments indicate that it converges to a stable solution. w |∇u|2 α (1. (1. 338].

χ(x) := (1.63) A binary morphological operation A can be extended to some grey-scale image f by defining Xa (Af ) := A(Xa f ) ∀ a ∈ IR. a ∈ IR}. As a consequence. [12]. therefore. The theory had first been developed for binary images.6. both working at ENS des Mines de Paris in Fontainebleau.g. Binary morphological operations affect only the boundary curve of the shape and. f (x) ≥ a}.5 CLASSIC MORPHOLOGICAL PROCESSES 31 1. Arehart et al. we identify a shape X with its characteristic function 1 if x ∈ X. [280. 371.5. afterwards it was extended to grey-scale images by regarding level sets as shapes. Grey-scale morphology generalizes these ideas [274] by decomposing an image f into its level sets {Xa f. radar and remote sensing.5 and 1. Afterwards numerical aspects of the PDE formulation of these processes are discussed. Henceforth. they are invariant under monotone grey-level rescalings. and summarizes the results concerning well-posedness and scale-space properties. see e. mineralogy. 184] for an overview. This section surveys the basic ideas and elementary operations of binary and grey-scale morphology. [25] and Alvarez et al. Nevertheless.1. and generalizations are sketched which comprise the morphological equivalent of Gaussian scale-space. except for 1.1 Binary and grey-scale morphology Binary morphology considers shapes (silhouettes).5 Classic morphological processes Morphology is an approach to image analysis based on shapes. 1. Morphology is usually described in terms of algebraic set theory. Its mathematical formalization goes back to the group around Matheron and Serra. (1.62) 0 else. where Xa f := {x ∈ IR2 . presents its PDE representations for images and curves.64) We observe that for this type of morphological operations only grey-level sets matter. 181. Its applications cover biology. quality control.6 and some modifications . i. This morphological invariance (grey-scale invariance) is characteristic for all methods we shall study in Section 1. they can be viewed as curve or shape deformations. (1.e. histology. closed sets X ⊂ IR2 whose boundaries are Jordan curves [16].5. and many others. PDE formulations for classic morphological processes have been discovered recently by Brockett and Maragos [60]. medical diagnostics. van den Boomgaard [50]. science of material.

3 Continuous-scale morphology Let us consider a convex structuring element tB with a scaling parameter t > 0. 13 Henceforth. (1. dilation and erosion with a structuring element B. t) . PARTIAL DIFFERENTIAL EQUATIONS in 1. respectively13 . for applications like edge detection or image restoration. a bounded set B ⊂ IR2 . 1. (1.2 Basic operations Classic morphology analyses a shape by matching it with a so-called structuring element. y∈B (1.68) (f • B) (x) := ((f ⊕ B) ⊖ B) (x). t) = sup y. Then. are defined for a grey-scale image f ∈ L∞ (IR2 ) by [60] dilation: erosion: (f ⊖ B) (x) := inf {f (x+y). y ∈ B}.69) (1.65) (1. t) . The two basic morphological operations. contrast provides important information which should be taken into account. Moreover. can be shown to be equivalent to solving ∂t u(x.5. for instance opening and closing: opening: closing: (f ◦ B) (x) := ((f ⊖ B) ⊕ B) (x).. calculating u(t) = f ⊕ tB and u(t) = f ⊖ tB.67) (1. 360].70) ∂t u(x. Dilation and erosion form the basis for constructing other morphological processes. It is a very desirable property in all cases where brightness changes of the illumination occur or where one wants to be independent of the specific contrast range of the camera. (f ⊕ B) (x) := sup {f (x−y). we frequently use the simplified notation u(t) instead of u(. or ellipses. On the other hand. while closing smoothes by eliminating small holes.5.32 CHAPTER 1. ∇u(x. fusing narrow breaks and filling gaps at the contours [181]. y ∈ B}. Typical shapes for B are discs. while erosion shrinks them.66) These names can be easily motivated when considering a shape in a binary image and a disc-shaped structuring element.6. y∈B with f as initial condition [12.5. 1. t) = inf y. in some cases isolines may give inadequate information about the depicted physical object boundaries. t) . ∇u(x. squares. In the preceding shape interpretation opening smoothes the shape by breaking narrow isthmuses and eliminating small islands. In this case dilation blows up its boundaries.

|y| ≤ 1} one obtains ∂t u = |∇u|.78) This equation moves level sets in normal direction with constant speed. We observe that (1. (1.74) (1.72) correspond to the simple cases β = ±1.74). ∂t C = β(κ) · n. 0) = C0 (p).Cpp ) : |Cp |3 C(p. Connection to curve evolution Morphological PDEs such as (1. Its importance for shape analysis in biological vision has already been pointed out in the sixties by Blum [47]. B := {y ∈ IR2 . 2π] × [0. |∇u| (1.76) Sometimes the image evolution (1. where the curvature of u is curv(u) := div ∇u .75) One can embed the curve C(p. It is closely related to the Huygens principle for wave propagation [25]. because it is written in terms of a fixed coordinate system. 33 (1. t) x2 (p.73) where p is the parametrization and t is the evolution parameter.71) (1.71) or (1.72) are closely related to shape and curve evolutions. t) in such a way that C is just a level curve of u.76) is called the Eulerian formulation of the curve evolution (1. erosion) of f with a disc of radius t and centre 0 as structuring element. The solution u(t) is the dilation (resp.77) (1. He simulated grassfire flow by a self-constructed opticomechanical device. Hence. Such a process is also named grassfire flow or prairie flow. This can be illustrated by considering a smooth Jordan curve C : [0. (1. . t) (1. C(p. which may be a function of its curvature κ := det(Cp . 16] ∂t u = β(curv(u)) · |∇u|. The corresponding evolution for u is given by [319.g.72) ∂t u = −|∇u|.5 (a) presents the temporal evolution of a test image under such a continuous-scale dilation.5 CLASSIC MORPHOLOGICAL PROCESSES By choosing e. ∞) → IR2 . they describe the curve evolutions ∂t C = ± n. Figure 5. 362.71) and (1. t) = x1 (p. t) in an image u(x. We assume that C evolves in outer normal direction n with speed β.1.

Lions and Morel [12]: They prove that under three architectural assumptions (semigroup property. while dilation reduces the number of local maxima. This establishes an important architectural scale-space property. which is also based on local extrema instead of zero-crossings. t) ≤ sup f 2 IR IR 2 on IR2 × [0. t) which fulfils the maximum–minimum principle inf f ≤ u(x. A suitable framework for the image evolution equation (1. Jackway and Deriche [206.5 Scale-space properties Brockett and Maragos [60] pointed out that the convexity of B is sufficient to ensure the semigroup property of the corresponding dilations and erosions. one smoothing axiom (comparison principle) and additional invariance requirements (grey-level shift invariance. Guichard. Hence.34 CHAPTER 1. entropy solutions. that for an initial value f ∈ BUC(IR2 ) := {ϕ ∈ L∞ (IR2 ) | ϕ is uniformly continuous on IR2 } (1. a two-dimensional scale-space . it is L∞ -stable: for two different initial images f .70) possess a unique global viscosity solution u(x. 129.(1.81) 1. Similar results have been found by van den Boomgaard and Smeulders [53].5.78) may develop singularities and intersections even for smooth initial data. morphological invariance). 207] prove a causality theorem for the dilation– erosion scale-space. PARTIAL DIFFERENTIAL EQUATIONS 1. Moreover. 103]. concepts of jump conditions.79) the equations (1. invariance under rotations and translations.69). locality and regularity).76) is provided by the theory of viscosity solutions [103]. but a unique weak solution in the viscosity sense still exists.4 Theoretical results Equations such as (1. where the classical solution concept does not apply.80) Moreover.5. (1. (1. They establish that under erosion the number of local minima is decreasing. and shocks have to be applied to this shape evolution [228]. A complete scale-space interpretation is due to Alvarez. The advantage of this analysis is that it allows us to treat shapes with singularities such as corners. v(t) satisfy u(t)−v(t) L∞ (IR2 ) ≤ f −g L∞ (IR2 ) . g the corresponding solutions u(t). The location of these extrema is preserved during their whole lifetime. they conjecture a causality property where singularities play a role similar to zero-crossings in Gaussian scale-space. It can be shown [90. ∞).

A dilation of an image f with a structuring function b : IR2 → IR is defined as (f ⊕ b) (x) := sup {f (x−y) + b(y)}. 51]. 53] that the result u(x.83) This is a generalization of definition (1. (1. In this case we have to renounce invariance under monotone grey level transformations.5 (b). but we gain an interesting insight into a process which has very much in common with Gaussian scale-space. since one can recover dilation with a structuring element B by considering the flat structuring function b(x) := 0 −∞ (x ∈ B).84) Van den Boomgaard [50. . y∈IR2 (1. 0) = f (x). (1.87) u(x.5 CLASSIC MORPHOLOGICAL PROCESSES equation has the following form: ∂t u = |∇u| F (t. thus being good candidates for morphological scale-spaces. t) = a exp( |x| ) are the 4t only rotationally symmetric kernels which are separable with respect to convolution. 51] and Jackway [206] proposed to dilate an image f (x) with quadratic structuring functions of type b(x. curv(u)) 35 (1.65).86) (1.82) Clearly. van den Boomgaard proves that the quadratic structuring functions b(x. t) are the only rotationally invariant structuring functions which are separable with respect to dilation [50. in [12] it is shown that the converse is true as well: all axioms that lead to (1. (1. 2 In analogy to the fact that Gaussian-type functions k(x. dilation and erosion belong to the class (1. 14 Invariance under rotations is only satisfied for a disc centered in 0 as structuring element. Indeed.1. t) is a weak solution of ∂t u = |∇u|2 .6 Generalizations It is possible to extend morphology with a structuring element to morphology with nonflat structuring functions. The temporal evolution of a test image under this process is illustrated in Figure 5.14 1.85) It can be shown [50.82). t) = − |x|2 4t (t > 0).82) are fulfilled.5. (x ∈ B).

25. nτ ). 360]. let us restrict ourselves to the one-dimensional dilation equation ∂t u = |∂x u|. A first-order upwind Osher–Sethian scheme for this process is given by n un+1 − ui i = τ min un − un i i−1 . and suffer from the problem of coping with singularities and topological changes [319. and it is possible to get results with sub-pixel accuracy. It has been discovered simultaneously by Dorst and van den Boomgaard [119] and by Maragos [275] in slightly differing formulations. Therefore. For this reason it is useful to discretize the corresponding image evolution equations. for instance discs or ellipses. 218. This generalization of the Legendre transform is the morphological equivalent of the Fourier transform.0 h 2 + max un − un i+1 i . 374].36 CHAPTER 1.0 h 2 .5. A fast algorithm is described by van den Boomgaard [51].88) where h is the pixel size. The widely-used Osher–Sethian schemes [319] are based on the idea to derive numerical methods for such equations from techniques for hyperbolic conservation laws. To illustrate the basic idea with a simple example. thus. and un denotes a discrete i approximation of u(ih. (b) The time t plays the role of a continuous scale parameter. The close relation between (1. 66]: (a) They give excellent results for non-digitally scalable structuring elements whose shapes cannot be represented correctly on a discrete grid. . Overviews of these level set approaches and their various applications can be found in [372. PARTIAL DIFFERENTIAL EQUATIONS A useful tool for understanding this similarity and many other analogies between morphology and linear systems theory is the slope transform.86) as limiting case.7 Numerical aspects Dilations or erosions with quadratic structuring functions are separable and. they can be implemented very efficiently by applying one-dimensional operations. the situation is more complicated. Level set methods possess two advantages over classical set-theoretic schemes for dilation/erosion [25. the size of a structuring element need not be multiples of the pixel size. For morphological operations with flat structuring elements.86) and Gaussian scale-space has also triggered Florack and Maas [142] to study a one-parameter family of isomorphisms of linear diffusion which reveals (1. (1. 360. τ is the time step size. Schemes for dilation or erosion which are based on curve evolution turn out be be difficult to handle: they require prohibitive small time steps. 1.

numerical aspects.6.6 CURVATURE-BASED MORPHOLOGICAL PROCESSES However. while the second one smoothes along isophotes.1. distance transformations. gridless image halftoning.1 Mean-curvature filtering In order to motivate our first curvature-based morphological PDE. 1. These processes are curvature-based. Two important representatives of this class are mean curvature motion and its affine invariant counterpart.6 Curvature-based morphological processes Besides providing a useful reinterpretation of classic continuous-scale morphology. the PDE approach has led to the discovery of new morphological operators. they reveal also two disadvantages: (a) They are slower than set-theoretic morphological schemes. 276]. (b) Dissipative effects such as blurring of discontinuities occur. 1. 373]. let us recall that the linear diffusion equation (1. In this subsection we shall discuss these PDEs. 15 . 435. The first term on the right-hand side of (1.8 Applications Continuous-scale morphology has been applied to shape-from-shading problems.89) describes smoothing along the flowlines. and applications.5.89) where the unit vectors η and ξ are parallel and perpendicular to ∇u.9) can be rewritten as ∂t u = ∂ηη u + ∂ξξ u. 385]. Applications outside the field of image processing and computer vision include for instance shape offsets in CAD and path planning in robotics. respectively. speed-up techniques for shape evolution have been proposed which use only points close to the curve at every time step [8. and skeletonization. By adapting the stencil for derivative approximations to the local smoothness of the solution. 37 To address the first problem. (1. 1. possible generalizations. Blurring of discontinuities can be minimized by applying shock-capturing techniques such as high-order ENO15 schemes [395. When we want to smooth ENO means essentially non-oscillatory. Overviews and suitable references can be found in [233. and – although they cannot be written in conservation form – they reveal interesting relations to diffusion processes. ENO schemes obtain both high-order accuracy in smooth regions and sharp shock transitions [183].

5 (c) and 5. They arise in flame propagation. Equation (1.11 (a) present examples for mean curvature filtering. see [372.38 CHAPTER 1. Figure 5.96) where Cρ := ∂ρ C.94) ∇u Since curv(u) = div |∇u| is the curvature of u (mean curvature for dimensions ≥ 3).e. It is invariant under Euclidean transformations.95) is also called geometric heat equation or Euclidean shortening flow.90) propagates isophotes in inner normal direction with a velocity that is given by their curvature κ = det(Cp . 0) = f (x).e. p v(p. grid generation. we can neglect the first term and end up with the problem ∂t u = ∂ξξ u. equation (1.93) (1.90) can also be written as ∂t u = u2 2 ux1 x1 − 2ux1 ux2 ux1x2 + u2 1 ux2 x2 x x u2 1 + u2 2 x x 1 = ∆u − ∇u. Let v(p. t) denote the Euclidean arc-length of C(p. 374] and the references therein for an overview. The importance of MCM in image processing became only recently clear: As nicely explained in a paper by Guichard and Morel [173].90) (1. u(x. Intrinsic heat flow Interestingly. crystal growth. i. there exists a further connection between linear diffusion and motion by curvature. (1. t)| dρ.97) . The subsequent discussions shall clarify these names. PARTIAL DIFFERENTIAL EQUATIONS the image anisotropically along its isophotes. the derivation of minimal surfaces. The corresponding curve evolution ∂t C(p. (1. mean curvature motion can be regarded as the limit process when classic morphological operators such as median filtering are iteratively applied.94) is named (mean) curvature motion (MCM). t) := 0 |Cρ (ρ. and many other applications.Cpp ) . |Cp |3 Processes of this type have first been studied by Brakke in 1978 [54]. (1. The Euclidean arc-length is characterized by |Cv | = 1. t). t) · n(p.91) By straightforward calculations one verifies that (1.95) shows that (1. Hess(u)∇u |∇u|2 = |∇u| curv(u). mappings x → Rx + b (1. i.92) (1. t) (1. t) = κ(p.

a nonconvex one becomes convex and.90) has a unique viscosity solution which is L∞ -stable and satisfies a maximum–minimum principle [12].5. 227].g. equation (1. t). since it is independent of the curve parametrization. Moreover. a point with a circle as limiting shape. if one isophote is enclosed by another.5. the number of extrema and inflection points of the curvature is nonincreasing. equation (1. and smoothing properties follow from the fact that the total curvature decreases. They establish the semigroup property as architectural quality.100) that it takes the time 1 T = 2 σ 2 to remove all isophotes within a circle of radius σ. t). Lions and Morel [12]. Theoretical results For the evolution of a smooth curve under its curvature. t) = ∂vv C(p. This shows that the . In analogy to the dilation/erosion case it can be shown that. The time for shrinking a circle of radius σ to a point is given by 1 (1. Moreover. i. it can be shown that.98) we recognize that curvature motion can be regarded as Euclidean invariant diffusion of isophotes: ∂t C(p. t) · n(p. since under all flows Ct = Cqq the Euclidean arc-length parametrization q(p) := v(p) is the fastest way to shrink the Euclidean perimeter |Cp | dp. However. As an image evolution. 14) that κ(p. When studying the evolution of isophotes under MCM. It is based on results of Evans and Spruck [129]. for an initial image f ∈ BUC(IR2 ). the curve shrinks to a circular point. p.100) T = 2 σ2 .1. [71]. it has been shown in [188. 169] that a smooth solution exists for some finite time interval [0. A convex curve remains convex. since the arc-length v is again a function of the curve. MCM belongs to the class of morphological scale-spaces which satisfy the general axioms of Alvarez. (1. that have been mentioned in 1. Scale-space interpretation A shape scale-space interpretation for curve evolution under Euclidean heat flow is studied by Kimia and Siddiqi [227]. 151. Guichard. (1.99) This geometric heat equation is intrinsic. Such a shape inclusion principle implies in connection with (1. Since it is well-known from differential geometry (see e. this ordering is preserved [129.99) is called Euclidean shortening flow [150]. t) = ∂vv C(p. T ). for t → T . the reader should be aware of the fact that – although this equation looks like a linear one-dimensional heat equation – it is in fact nonlinear.6 CURVATURE-BASED MORPHOLOGICAL PROCESSES 39 where R ∈ IR2×2 denotes a rotation matrix and b ∈ IR2 is a translation vector.e.

Affine transformations arise as shape distortions of planar objects when being observed from a large distance under different angles. and it can be calculated as p s(p. t) = κ(p. Cρρ (ρ. Css ) = 1.101) where b ∈ IR2 denotes a translation vector and the matrix A ∈ IR2×2 is invertible.104) (1. Such an affine arc-length was proposed by Blaschke [44. t) := 0 det Cρ (ρ. 0) = C0 (p). 363] constructed an affine invariant flow by replacing the Euclidean arc-length v(p. Hence.40 CHAPTER 1. Sapiro and Tannenbaum [362. This property is characteristic for all scale-spaces of the Alvarez–Guichard–Lions–Morel axiomatic and distinguishes them from nonlinear diffusion filters. A (full) affine transformation is a mapping x → Ax + b (1. · n(p.102) By virtue of ∂ss C(p. contrast cannot be enhanced.6. Moreover. (1. t). t) 1 3 dρ. PARTIAL DIFFERENTIAL EQUATIONS relation between temporal and spatial scale for MCM is the same as for linear diffusion filtering (cf. 1. two level sets cannot move closer to one another than they were initially [129. t) (1. t) in (1. t) we obtain the affine invariant heat flow ∂t C(p. t) that is invariant with respect to affine transformations with det(A) = 1. (1. there exist certain problems which also require invariance with respect to affine transformations. It is characterized by det(Cs . 12–15] in 1923.99) by an “arc-length” s(p. Affine invariant intrinsic diffusion In analogy to the Euclidean invariant heat flow. pp.2 Affine invariant filtering Motivation Although Euclidean invariant smoothing methods are sufficient in many applications. (1.105) . t).14)). t) = κ(p. t) 1 3 1 3 · n(p.103) C(p. 227].

with three exceptions [363]: (a) Closed curves shrink to points with an ellipse as limiting shape (elliptical points). t) as a level-line of an image u(x. Theoretical results The curve evolution properties of affine invariant heat flow can be shown to be the same as in the Euclidean invariant case. under all flows Ct = Cqq .6 CURVATURE-BASED MORPHOLOGICAL PROCESSES Affine invariant image evolution 41 When regarding the curve C(p. . this equation is also called affine shortening flow.106) (1. 5.109) (c) The time for shrinking a circle of radius σ to a point is T = 3 4 σ3. After having mentioned some theoretical results. 2 1 1 3 1 3 (1. we end up with the evolution equation ∂t u = |∇u| curv(u) = 3 = |∇u| 3 uξξ . Guichard. (b) The name affine shortening flow reflects the fact that. t).110) For the image evolution equation (1. 4 (1. Cpp (p. Besides the name affine invariant heat flow. Lions and Morel [12] via an axiomatic scale-space approach. we shall briefly sketch this reasoning below. see Fig. t) 1 3 dp. the affine arc-length parametrization q(p) := s(p) is the fastest way to shrink the affine perimeter L(t) := det Cp (p.1. affine morphological scale-space (AMSS). and fundamental equation in image processing. This image evolution equation has been discovered independently of and simultaneously with the curve evolution approach of Sapiro and Tannenbaum by Alvarez.6(a).106) we have the same results as for MCM and dilation/erosion concerning well-posedness of a viscosity solution which satisfies a maximum–minimum principle [12]. t). The temporal evolution of an image under such an evolution resembles mean curvature motion.108) u2 2 ux1 x1 − 2ux1 ux2 ux1 x2 + u2 1 ux2 x2 x x where ξ is the direction perpendicular to ∇u.107) (1. (1.

366]. 113].6. . Simplifications of this axiomatic and related axioms for shape scale-spaces can be found in [16]. such that Tt (Af ) = A(Tt′ f ) ∀ f ∈ BUC(IR2 ). The scale-space reasoning of Sapiro and Tannenbaum investigates properties of the curve evolution. 133]. one requires a multiscale analysis which is invariant under a general projective mapping (x1 . can be regarded as steepest descent methods of energy functionals which have been proposed by Polyakov in the context of string theory [235].111) For this reason they call the AMSS equation also fundamental equation in image analysis. A study of heat flows which are invariant under subgroups of the projective group can be found in [314. Research in this direction has been carried out by Faugeras and Keriven [130. there exists a rescaled time t′ (t.112) with A = (aij ) ∈ IR3×3 and det A = 1. Olver et al.3 Generalizations In order to analyse planar shapes in a way that does not depend on their location in IR3 . 113]. It is invariant to the bending (isometric mapping) of the surface.42 CHAPTER 1. This geodesic curvature flow and other evolutions. Guichard. 1. (1. 131. x2 )⊤ → a11 x1 + a21 x2 + a31 a12 x1 + a22 x2 + a32 . and that there is some evidence that they do not reveal the same smoothing scale-space properties [314]. PARTIAL DIFFERENTIAL EQUATIONS Scale-space properties Alvarez.106) is unique (up to temporal rescalings) when imposing on the scale-space axioms for (1. Based on results of [229. Moreover. see [362] and the references therein. A) ≥ 0. [314]. 24] they point out that the Euclidean absolute curvature decreases as well as the number of extrema and inflection points of curvature.82) an additional affine invariance axiom: For every invertible A ∈ IR2×2 and for all t ≥ 0. 352. Lions and Morel [12] proved that (1. 150. Euclidean and affine invariant curve evolutions can also be modified in order to obtain area. It turns out that intrinsic heat-equation-like formulations for the projective group are more complicated than the Euclidean and affine invariant ones. An intrinsic heat flow for images painted on surfaces has been investigated by Kimmel [232].or length-preserving equations [188. both for scalar and vector-valued images. and Dibos [112. Bruckstein and Shaked [62]. a shape inclusion principle holds. a13 x1 + a23 x2 + a33 a13 x1 + a23 x2 + a33 ⊤ (1.

[305. the question arises of how to combine them to a process which simplifies arbitrary surfaces without creating singularities. Curve evolution schemes are investigated by Mokhtarian and Mackworth [291]. On the one hand. 95. Such a filtering intends to simplify the image while preserving its “semantical atoms” in the sense of Kanizsa [219]. Bruckstein et al. set-theoretic morphological schemes and approximation schemes for the Eulerian formulation. 288]. is established. 362]. 15. [95]. 267. 78. on the other hand.6. 304] approximate . convergence to polygones. Generalizations of MCM or AMSS to 3-D images are investigated in [91. 298. This is essentially the same tradeoff as for circular structuring elements in classical set-theoretic morphology. 1. it is difficult to find consistent approximations on a pixel grid which have good rotational invariance.5. [285]. Guichard.1. Niessen et al. 374]. [80. This problem is reminescent of the creation of new extrema in diffusion scale-spaces when going from 1-D to 2-D. Cohignac et al. Merriman et al. higher stability or less dissipative effects [10. we have three main classes of numerical methods: curve evolution schemes. 1. 316]. In complete analogy to the behaviour of the continuous equations. 287. 372. Curve evolution schemes can reveal perfect affine invariance. Related discrete curve evolutions are analysed in [135.6 CURVATURE-BASED MORPHOLOGICAL PROCESSES 43 Recently it has been suggested to modify AMSS such that any evolution at Tor X-junctions of isophotes is inhibited [75]. A comparative evaluation of these approaches has been carried out by Lucido et al. Different variants of these schemes have been proposed in order to get better rotational invariance. In contrast to the 2-D situation. In [61] discrete analogues of MCM and AMSS for the evolution of planar polygons are introduced. 359]. [267]. this leads to an explicit finite difference method which approximates the spatial derivatives by central differences. Since they can have different sign.4 Numerical aspects Due to the equivalence between curve evolution and morphological image processing PDEs. In the case of MCM or AMSS. [61]. whose corners belong to circles and ellipses.7. Ruuth [347]. Lions and Morel to colour images are discussed in [82]. Convergent set-theoretic morphological schemes for MCM and AMSS have been proposed by Catt´ et al. A comparison of different methods of these classes can be found in [95]. Affine scale-space axiomatics for image sequences (movies) have been established in [12. topological changes such as the splitting of conconvex structures may occur. respectively. they are very fast and they e are entirely invariant under monotone grey-scale transformations. 79]. and Moisan [289]. In this case two principal curvatures occur. Most direct approximations of morphological image evolution equations are based on the Osher–Sethian schemes [319. cf. and possibilities to generalize the axiomatic of Alvarez.

ceremade. Comparing it with the explicit scheme they report a tradeoff between the larger time step size and the higher computational effort per step.2.16 MegaWave2 has been developed by Jacques Froment and Sylvain Parrino. 218].dauphine. since affine invariance implies that circles are equivalent to ellipses of any arbitrary eccentricity. 1. In order to solve the resulting linear system of equations he applies symmetric Gauß–Seidel iterations. A software package which contains implementations of MCM. A consistent semi-implicit approximation of MCM which discretizes the firstorder spatial derivatives explicitly and the second-order derivatives implicitly has been proposed by Alvarez [10]. however. If one wants to have a good numerical approximation of affine invariance. and assembles the final image by superimposing all evolved level sets [75]. 146]. Nicolet and Sp¨ hler [301] investigate a consistent fully implicit scheme for MCM u leading to a nonlinear system of equations. renounce consistency with the original equation as well as rotational invariance: round shapes evolve into polygonal structures. but their calculation in the Fourier domain is computationally expensive and aliasing may lead to oscillatory solutions. One way to achieve unconditional L∞ -stability for MCM is to approximate uξξ by suitable linear combinations of one-dimensional second-order derivatives along grid directions and to apply an implicit finite difference scheme [95.6) is available under the name MegaWave2. Using Gaussian derivatives for MCM or AMSS permits larger time steps for large kernels [304]. More information can be found under http://www. CEREMADE.44 CHAPTER 1. France. For AMSS an additional constraint appears: the behaviour of this equation is highly nonlocal. AMSS and many other modern techniques such as wavelets. map them into Lipschitz-continuous images by applying a distance transformation. PARTIAL DIFFERENTIAL EQUATIONS the spatial derivatives by Gaussian derivatives which are calculated in the Fourier domain. 1.fr. 75775 Paris Cedex 16. Afterwards one extracts the processed level sets as the zero-level sets of the evolved images. As a remedy. cf. and run a finite difference method on them. and active contour models (cf. Schemes of this type.3. The natural price one has to pay for the excellent results is a fairly high computational effort. Concerning stability one observes that all these explicit schemes can violate a discrete maximum–minimum principle and require small time steps to be experimentally stable. Mumford-Shah segmentation.6. 16 . An inherent problem of all finite difference schemes for morphological image evolutions are their dissipative effects which create additional blurring of discontinuities. one has to decrease the temporal step size significantly below the step size of experimental stability [16. It is solved by means of nonlinear Gauß– Seidel iterations. University Paris IX. one can decompose the image into binary level sets. 13.

260].1) or global PDEs for histogramme enhancement [358]. This leads to a process which is useful for analysing components of shape [228. proposed a method for caricature-like shape exaggeration [394].6 CURVATURE-BASED MORPHOLOGICAL PROCESSES 45 1.7. already in 1965. This so-called min–max flow produces a restored image as steady-state solution and reveals good denoising properties. Well-posedness results are not known up to now. In order to improve images.g. Adapting them to tasks such as texture enhancement requires more sophisticated and more global feature descriptors than the gradient. Malladi and Sethian [272] propose to replace MCM by a technique in which the motion of level curves is based on either min(κ. 234]. cf. It is interesting to note that. Recently Steiner et al. see e.1. 0) or max(κ. This long-time forgotten method is similar to the Perona–Malik process (1. 16]. since the theory of viscosity solutions is no longer applicable. and which is called entropy scale-space or reaction–diffusion scale-space. 132]. [126. 453]. Introducing a reaction term as in [102] allows to attract the solution to specified grey values which can be used as quantization levels [11]. 1. This corresponds to nonlinear diffusion filters and a restoration method by total variation minimization [345] which shall be described in 1. 304]. for instance MCM and dilation/erosion. The potential of MCM for shape segmentation [290] has even been used for classifying chrysanthemum leaves [1]. 364.2.6. 365. All these preceding modifications are at the expense of renouncing the morphological invariance of the genuine operators (and also affine invariance in the case of [364.56). 127]. 97. 230.36) for large image gradients. 304]. If one wants to stay within the morphological framework one can combine different morphological processes. 301] in medical images and to terrain matching [268]. 304] and blob detection [157. 365. They evolved the boundary curve by means of a backward Euclidean shortening flow with a stabilizing bias term as in (1. shock filtering ([14]. 384. 96.94). and for texture discrimination [265. If one aims to use these equations for image restoration one usually modifies them by multiplying them with a term that reduces smoothing at high-contrast edges [13.6 (b). see also Fig. MCM and AMSS have also been applied to denoising [305. 383. depending on the average grey value within a certain neighbourhood. . 5. 0). for instance an analysis by means of Gabor functions [72. MCM or AMSS have also been combined with other processes such as linear diffusion [13]. for corner detection [15].7. 315] is used). unless an “affine invariant gradient” [231. Gabor – the inventor of optical holography and the so-called Gabor functions – proposed a deblurring algorithm based on combining MCM with backward smoothing along flowlines [149.5 Applications The special invariances of AMSS are useful for shape recognition tasks [12. Another modification results from omitting the factor |∇u| in the mean curvature motion (1.

Especially for assisting the segmentation of medical images they have become very popular [282]: The expert user gives a good initial guess of an interesting contour (organ. and an external energy term attracting the result to salient image features. which is attracted by image features such as edges.).. We observe that terms 1 and 2 describe the internal energy. 452]. (1.113) The first summand is a membrane term causing the curve to shrink. Minimizing the functional (1. the second one is a rigidity term which encourages a straight contour. while 3-D active models are sometimes named active surfaces or active blobs. x2 (s))⊤ which minimizes the functional E(C(s)) = C(s) α 2 |Cs (s)|2 + β 2 |Css (s)|2 − γ |∇f (C(s))|2 ds. The main . snake models incorporate many ideas ranging from energy minimization over curve evolution to the Perona–Malik filter and diffusion–reaction models. A 3-D version of such an active contour model is presented in [401]. the energy functional consists of two parts: an internal energy fraction which controls the smoothness of the result. the result will depend on the choice of the initial curve and a good segmentation requires an initial curve which is close to the final segment. and the third term pushes the contour to high gradients of the image f . Since this model makes direct use of the snake contour. while the third one represents the external (image) energy. Witkin and Terzopoulos proposed the first active contour model in a journal paper in 1988 [221]. PARTIAL DIFFERENTIAL EQUATIONS 1. . which will be carried the rest of the way by some energy minimization.113) by steepest descent gives ∂C = αCss − βCssss − γ∇(|∇f |2 ). tumour..114) which can be approximated by finite differences. Such a snake is represented by a curve C(s) = (x1 (s).46 CHAPTER 1.6 Active contour models One of the main applications of curve evolution ideas appears in the context of active contour models (deformable models). it is also called an explicit model.6. Active contour models can be used to search image features in an interactive way. Explicit snakes Kass. The nonnegative parameters α. It is therefore not surprising that they play an important role in several generalization and unification attempts [356. For this reason. β and γ serve as weights of these expressions. 2-D versions are also called snakes. Usually. Apart from these practical merits. Their snakes can be thought of as an energy-minimizing spline. 380. ∂t (1.

could prove well-posedness in the viscosity sense [73]. This allows simultaneous segmentation of multiple objects. for instance by using the distance transformation. a compensation for the property of MCM to create convex regions. It was discovered by Caselles.6 CURVATURE-BASED MORPHOLOGICAL PROCESSES 47 disadvantage of the preceding model is its topological rigidity: a classical explicit snake cannot split in order to segment several objects simultaneously17 .32): it becomes small for large |∇fσ | = |∇Kσ ∗f |.94). • ν|∇u| describes motion in normal direction. In practice. and the final contour C is extracted as the zero level curve of u(x. 435]. Hence.115) have the following meaning: • |∇u| div (∇u/|∇u|) is the curvature term of MCM which smoothes level sets. Moreover. they use essentially only one remaining parameter. An advantage of implicit snake models is their topological flexibility: The contour may split. e Coll and Dibos [73]. and Caselles and Coll investigated related approaches for image sequences [74]. Catt´. On Recently McInerley and Terzopoulos have proposed modified explicit deformable models which allow topological changes [281. |∇u| (1. The terms in (1. dilation or erosion depending on the sign of ν. T ). i. The idea behind implicit snakes is to embed the initial curve C0 (s) as a zero level curve into a function u0 : IR2 → IR.1. it is also sometimes not easy to find a good balance between the parameters α. Whitaker and Chen developed similar implicit active contour models for 3-D images [436. when the process does hardly alter anymore. Sethian and Vemuri [273]. it slows down the snake as soon as it approaches significant edges of the original image f . For this model Caselles et al.e. • g is a stopping function such as the Perona–Malik diffusivity (1. Implicit snakes In 1993 some of the inherent difficulties of explicit snakes have been solved by replacing them by a so-called implicit model. see (1. and later on by Malladi. Then u0 is evolved under a PDE which includes knowledge about the original image f : ∂t u = g(|∇fσ |2 ) |∇u| div ∇u +ν . 17 . This so-called balloon force [93] is required for pushing a level set into concave regions. 283].115) This evolution is stopped at some time T . the balloon force ν. β and γ.

Recently also an affine invariant analogue to geodesic active contours has been proposed [315].48 CHAPTER 1. 226. but often a speed term νg(|∇fσ |2 )|∇u| is added to achieve faster and more stable attraction to edges. (1. Kumar. Techniques which can be related to geodesic active contours have also been used for solving 3-D vision problems such as stereo [134] and motion analysis [322]. PARTIAL DIFFERENTIAL EQUATIONS the other hand. Then the .117) This is nothing else than finding a curve of minimal distance (geodesic) with respect to some image-induced metric.118) This active contour model is parameter-free. Olver. |∇u| (1.32). These snakes replace the contour energy (1.113) by E(C) = C(s) α 2 |Cs (s)|2 − γ g(|∇fσ (C)|2 ) ds (1.116) is equivalent to searching min C C(s) g |∇fσ (C(s))|2 |Cs (s)| ds. the process does not really stop at the desired result. They have been proposed simultaneously by Caselles. Tek and Kimia use implicit active contours starting from randomly chosen seed points. it only slows down. both in 2-D [399] and in 3-D [400]. and it is difficult to interpret implicit snakes in terms of energy minimization. A theoretical analysis of geodesic snakes concerning existence. Tannenbaum and Yezzi [226]. 271]. Kimmel and Sapiro [76] and by Kichenassamy.116) where g denotes again a Perona–Malik diffusivity of type (1. Embedding the initial curve as a level set of some image u0 and applying a descent method to the corresponding Euler-Lagrange equation leads to the image evolution PDE ∂t u = |∇u| div g(|∇fσ |2 ) ∇u . Under some additional assumptions they derive that minimizing (1.118) by g(|∇uσ |2 ). and extensions to 3-D images are studied in [77. uniqueness and stability of a viscosity solution can be found in [76. They name this technique reaction–diffusion bubbles. Self-snakes The properties of geodesic snakes induced Sapiro to use a related technique for image enhancement [357]: he replaced g(|∇fσ |2 ) in (1. In order to address the initialization problem. Geodesic snakes Geodesic snakes make a synthesis of explicit and implicit snake ideas. 226].

one may ask if it is possible to apply related ideas to image processing. 1.6(c).18 Another image enhancement method that is close in spirit is due to Eidelman. [380]. see also [414.121) Thus. cf. This would be useful to restore discontinuities such as edges. For σ = 0 this gives ∂t u = |∇u| div g(|∇u|2) ∇u |∇u| (1.1: the latter can be written as ∂t u = g(|∇u|2) ∆u + ∇⊤ g(|∇u|2) ∇u.123) plays an important role for shock calculations. Their model contains a reaction term which inhibits smoothing at edges and keeps the filtered image u close to the original image f . 422] for related ideas. it cannot be excluded that a self-snake without spatial regularization reveals the same ill-posedness problems as the Perona–Malik filter [356].122) The temporal evolution of a regularized self-snake without reaction term is depicted in Fig. Generalizations of self-snakes to vector-valued images [357. however.120) = g(|∇u|2) uξξ + ∇⊤ g(|∇u|2) ∇u with ξ ⊥ ∇u. Chen.1. For σ > 0. 361] can be obtained using Di Zenzo’s first fundamental form for colour images [114]. we observe striking similarities with the Perona–Malik process from Section 1. Grossmann and Friedman [125].119) (1. 18 . The restored image is given by the steady-state of ∂t u = |∇u| div g(|∇uσ |2 ) ∇u + β |∇u| (f −u) |∇u| (β > 0).7 TOTAL VARIATION METHODS 49 snake becomes a self-snake no longer underlying external image forces. 5. (1. Vemuri and Wong [89] established existence and stability of a unique viscosity solution to a modified self-snake process. (1. Although this equation cannot be cast in divergence form.7 Total variation methods T V (u) := Ω Inspired by observations from fluid dynamics where the total variation (TV) |∇u| dx (1. Below we shall focus on two important TV-based image restoration techniques which have been pioneered by Osher and Rudin: TV-preserving methods and techniques which are TV-minimizing subject to certain constraints.3. It maps the image grey values to gas dynamical parameters and solves the compressible Euler equations using shock-capturing total variation diminishing (TVD) techniques based on Godunov’s method.

Here.124) with F (u) := sgn(u) arises as the PDE formulation of a classical image enhancement algorithm by Kramer and Bruckner [243]. sgn(F (u)) = sgn(u). TV-preserving methods suffer from the problem that fluctuations due to noise do also create shocks. Alvarez and Mazorra [14] replace the operator L(u) = uηη in (1. It has been shown that a one-dimensional version of this filter preserves the total variation and satisfies a maximum–minimum principle. They prove that their semi-implicit finitedifference scheme has a unique solution which satisfies a maximum–minimum principle.50 CHAPTER 1. PARTIAL DIFFERENTIAL EQUATIONS 1. It solves the linear diffusion equation backwards in time under the regularizing constraint that the total variation remains constant. the Laplacian L(u) = ∆u or the second-order directional derivative L(u) = uηη with η ∇u.7. By means of our knowledge from morphological processes. Kramer and Bruckner proved in 1975 that their N-dimensional discrete scheme converges after a finite number of iterations to a state where each point is a local extremum. Recently van den Boomgaard [52] pointed out that the 1-D version of (1. 0) = f (x).1 TV-preserving methods In 1990 Osher and Rudin have proposed to restore blurred images by shock filtering [317].124) by a Gaussian-smoothed version L(Kσ ∗u) = Kσ ∗uηη and supplement the resulting equation with a noiseeliminating mean curvature process. (1. This stabilization can be realized by keeping local extrema fixed during the whole evolution. and L(u) is a second-order elliptic operator whose zerocrossings correspond to edges. For this reason. Osher and Rudin have also proposed another TV-preserving deblurring technique [318]. both in the continuous and discrete case. Thus. blocky . For the two-dimensional case not many theoretical results are available except for a discrete maximum–minimum principle. we recognize that this filter aims to produce a flow field that is directed from the interior of a region towards its edges where it develops shocks. For this reason. From a practical point of view.2 TV-minimizing methods Total variation is good for quantifying the simplicity of an image since it measures oscillations without unduly punishing discontinuities. These filters calculate the restored image as the steady-state solution of the problem ∂t u = −|∇u| F (L(u)).125) u(x.g.124) (1. 1. the goal is to obtain a piecewise constant steady-state solution with discontinuities only at the edges of the initial image.7. e.

but – in contrast to TV approaches – equation (1.56). . Given an image f with additive noise of zero mean and known variance σ 2 . we seek a restoration u satisfying min u Ω |∇u| dx (1. It uses an explicit finite difference scheme with central and one-sided spatial differences and adapts the Lagrange multiplier by means of the gradient projection method of Rosen. Ω (1. let us study an example. In order to solve this constrained variational problem. Osher and Fatemi [345] have proposed to minimize the total variation under constraints which reflect assumptions about noise. 19 Related ideas have also been developed by Geman and Reynolds [153]. In [345] a gradient descent method is proposed to solve (1. the divergence term in (1. Rudin.129).129) looks similar to the steady-state equation of the diffusion–reaction equation (1. which relates TVminimizing techniques to MCM.127) (1.56) is not intended to satisfy the noise constraint exactly [346].126) subject to (u−f )2 dx = σ 2 .129) with homogeneous Neumann boundary conditions.129) is identical with the curvature.1. In order to restore noisy blocky images.19 To fix ideas. The (unknown) Lagrange multipliers µ and λ have to be determined in such a way that the constraints are fulfilled. One may also reformulate the constrained TV minimization as an unconstrained problem [83]: The penalized least square problem min u 1 u−f 2 2 L2 (Ω) +α Ω |∇u| dx (1.130) is equivalent to the constrained TV minimization.128) u dx = Ω Ω f dx. Interestingly. (1.128) verifies necessarily the Euler equation div ∇u − µ − λ(u−f ) = 0 |∇u| (1. PDE methods can be applied: A solution of (1. if α is related to the Lagrange 1 multiplier λ via α = λ .126)–(1. Moreover.7 TOTAL VARIATION METHODS 51 images (consisting only of a few almost piecewise constant segments) reveal very small total variation.

and the idea of L1 -norm minimization has also led to improved optic flow algorithms [245]. 409]. This leads to TV-based blind deconvolution algorithms [86]. As a remedy. 204. where the generalized TV norm is chosen as the l2 -norm of the TV norms of the separate channels. 253. (1. 115. they establish relations between TV-minimizing methods and nonlinear diffusion techniques [397]. Another possibility is to consider the constrained minimization of B(u) := Ω |∇u| p(|∇u|) dx. To overcome the problem that the total variation integral contains the nondifferentiable argument |∇u|. 346. as |∇u| ranges from 0 to ∞. [262] and Dobson and Santosa [115] have shown the existence of BV(Ω)-solutions for problems of this type. 205. 253. optimization. 83]. and they have established uniqueness. 118. Total variation methods have been applied to restoring images of military relevance [345. 410. Chambolle and Lions [83] have extended the existence proof to noncompact operators (which comprises also the situation without blur). see [46]. it has been proposed to minimize the L1 -norm of expressions containing also higher-order derivatives [344. 396]. one applies regularization strategies or techniques from nonsmooth optimization. 83]. or other types of noise [262. 262. 83]. TV-minimizing methods have been generalized in different ways: • The constrained TV-minimization idea is frequently adapted to other constraints such as blur. • They have been applied to colour images [45]. • The tendency of TV-minimizing to create piecewise constant structures can cause undesired effects such as the creation of staircases at sigmoid-like edges [116. . Much research is done in order to find efficient numerical methods for which convergence can be established. 84. They are useful for enhancing reconstruction algorithms for inverse scattering problems [37]. to improving material from criminal and civil investigations as court evidence [344]. Recently.130) have attracted much interest from mathematicians working on inverse problems.52 CHAPTER 1. 87. 116. or numerical analysis [2. 85. 346. • Strong and Chan have identified the parameter α in (1. 117. problems of type (1. 344.131) where p(|∇u|) decreases from 2 to 1. Lions et al. • TV-minimizing methods have also been used for estimating discontinuous blurring kernels such as motion or out-of-focus blur from a degraded image. 253]. noise with blur.130) as a scale parameter [396]. By adapting α to the local image structure. and to enhancing pictures from confocal microscopy [409] and tomography [115. PARTIAL DIFFERENTIAL EQUATIONS In recent years.

In particular. we shall see that anisotropic nonlinear diffusion processes can share many advantages of the scale-space and the image enhancement world. The general framework. On the other hand. we have also become aware of some limitations. for some applications. for which the results hold. Pure restoration methods such as diffusion–reaction equations or TV-based techniques do allow contrast enhancement and lead to stable structures but can suffer from theoretical or practical problems. minimization algorithms can get trapped in a poor local minimum. Moreover. A scalespace interpretation is presented which does not exclude contrast enhancement. Both scale-space and well-posedness properties carry over from the continuous to the semidiscrete and discrete setting. and well-posedness results are established. The goal of the subsequent chapters is to develop a theory for nonlinear anisotropic diffusion filters which addresses some of the abovementioned shortcomings. or the use of explicit schemes causes restrictive step size limitations. Linear diffusion and morphological scale-spaces are well-posed and have a solid axiomatic foundation. They shall serve as a motivation for the theory which will be explored in the subsequent chapters. Other interesting image restoration topics have found less attention. specific anisotropic models are presented which permit applications beyond segmentation and edge enhancement tasks. .1. most image-enhancing PDE methods focus on edge detection and segmentation problems. they possess the undesirable property that they do not permit contrast enhancement and that they may blur and delocalize structures. for instance enhancement of coherent flow-like structures in textures.7 TOTAL VARIATION METHODS 53 1. The latter comprises for instance semi-implicit techniques for which unconditional stability in the L∞ -norm is proved. For both scale-space and restoration methods many questions concerning their discrete realizations are still open: discrete scale-space results are frequently missing.8 Conclusions and further scope of the book Although we have seen that there exists a large variety of PDE-based scale-space and image restoration methods which offer many advantages. for instance unsolved well-posedness questions or the search for efficient minimizers of nonconvex or nondifferentiable functionals. Finally. includes also linear and isotropic nonlinear diffusion filters.

54

CHAPTER 1. PARTIAL DIFFERENTIAL EQUATIONS

Chapter 2 Continuous diffusion filtering
This chapter presents a general continuous model for anisotropic diffusion filters, analyses its theoretical properties and gives a scale-space interpretation. To this end, we adapt the diffusion process to the structure tensor, a well-known tool for analysing local orientation. Under fairly weak assumptions on the class of filters, it is possible to establish well-posedness and regularity results and to prove a maximum–minimum principle. Since the proof does not require any monotony assumption it applies also to contrast-enhancing diffusion processes. After sketching invariances of the resulting scale-space, we focus on analysing its smoothing properties. We shall see that, besides the extremum principle, a large class of associated Lyapunov functionals plays an important role in this context [414, 415].

2.1

Basic filter structure

Let us consider a rectangular image domain Ω := (0, a1 ) × (0, a2 ) with boundary Γ := ∂Ω and let an image be represented by a mapping f ∈ L∞ (Ω). The class of anisotropic diffusion filters we are concerned with is represented by the initial boundary value problem ∂t u = div (D ∇u) D∇u, n = 0 on on on u(x, 0) = f (x) Ω × (0, ∞), Ω, Γ × (0, ∞). (2.1) (2.2) (2.3)

Hereby, n denotes the outer normal and ., . the Euclidean scalar product on IR2 . In order to adapt the diffusion tensor D ∈ IR2×2 to the local image structure, one would usually let it depend on the edge estimator ∇uσ (cf. 1.3.3), where uσ (x, t) := (Kσ ∗ u(., t)) (x) ˜ (σ > 0) (2.4) and u denotes an extension of u from Ω to IR2 , which may be obtained by mirroring ˜ at Γ (cf. [81]). 55

56

CHAPTER 2. CONTINUOUS DIFFUSION FILTERING

However, we shall choose a more general structure descriptor which comprises the edge detector ∇uσ , but also allows to extract more information. This will be presented next.

2.2

The structure tensor

In order to identify features such as corners or to measure the local coherence of structures, we need methods which take into account how the orientation of the (smoothed) gradient changes within the vicinity of any investigated point. The structure tensor – also called interest operator, scatter matrix or (windowed second) moment tensor – is an important representative of this class. Matrices of this type are useful for many different tasks, for instance for analysing flow-like textures [340, 31], corners and T-junctions [145, 182, 310, 309], shape cues [256, pp. 349–382] and spatio–temporal image sequences [209, pp. 147–153], [168, pp. 219–258]. Related approaches can also be found in [39, 40, 220]. Let us focus on some aspects which are of importance in our case. In order to study orientations instead of directions, we have to identify gradients which differ only by their sign: they share the same orientation, but point in opposite directions. To this end, we reconsider the vector-valued structure descriptor ∇uσ within a matrix framework. The matrix J0 resulting from the tensor product J0 (∇uσ ) := ∇uσ ⊗ ∇uσ := ∇uσ ∇uT (2.5) σ has an orthonormal basis of eigenvectors v1 , v2 with v1 ∇uσ and v2 ⊥ ∇uσ . The corresponding eigenvalues |∇uσ |2 and 0 give just the contrast (the squared gradient) in the eigendirections. Averaging this orientation information can be accomplished by convolving J0 (∇uσ ) componentwise with a Gaussian Kρ . This gives the structure tensor Jρ (∇uσ ) := Kρ ∗ (∇uσ ⊗ ∇uσ ) (ρ ≥ 0).

(2.6)

It is not hard to verify that the symmetric matrix Jρ = j11 j12 is positive semidefj12 j22 inite and possesses orthonormal eigenvectors v1 , v2 with v1
 

j22 − j11 + 1 j11 +j22 ± 2

The corresponding eigenvalues µ1 and µ2 are given by µ1,2 =

2j12 . 2 (j11 −j22 )2 + 4j12
2 (j11 −j22 )2 + 4j12 ,

(2.7)

(2.8)

where the + sign belongs to µ1 . As they integrate the variation of the grey values within a neighbourhood of size O(ρ), they describe the average contrast in the

10) and identify it with its dual space. the coherence direction. THEORETICAL RESULTS 57 eigendirections. Furthermore.3 Theoretical results In order to discuss well-posedness results. Let L2 (0. and v2 gives the preferred local orientation.9) becomes large for anisotropic structures. and the expression 2 (µ1 − µ2 )2 = (j11 −j22 )2 + 4j12 (2. We need the following prerequisites: . H1(Ω)) be the space of functions u. µ1 and µ2 can be used as descriptors of local structure: Constant areas are characterized by µ1 = µ2 = 0. T ].11) In a similar way.T ]. T ]) such that  T 2 H1 (Ω) u L2 (0. (2. corners can be identified by µ1 ≥ µ2 ≫ 0. (2. C([0. Presmoothing in order to obtain ∇uσ makes the structure tensor insensitive to noise and irrelevant details of scales smaller than O(σ). Now we can give a precise formulation of the problem we are concerned with. let us first recall some useful notations. we observe that v1 is the orientation with the highest grey value fluctuations.T . strongly measurable on [0. we denote by Cp (X. Let H1 (Ω) be the Sobolev space of functions u(x) ∈ L2 (Ω) with all distributional derivatives of first order being in L2 (Ω). L2 (Ω)) is defined as the space of continuous functions u : [0. 2.L2 (Ω)) := max u(t) [0.10 (d).2. By virtue of µ1 ≥ µ2 ≥ 0. see Section 5. The parameter σ is called local scale or noise scale. T . Thus. We equip H1 (Ω) with the norm u := u 2 L2 (Ω) 2 1/2 H1 (Ω) + i=1 ∂xi u 2 L2 (Ω) (2.T ] L2 (Ω) . the integration scale ρ should reflect the characteristic window size over which the orientation is to be analysed.3. T ] → L2 (Ω) supplemented with the norm u C([0. Y ) the set of Cp -mappings from X to Y .12) As usual. T ] with range in H1 (Ω) (for the Lebesgue measure dt on [0. An example which illustrates the advantages of the structure tensor for analysing coherent patterns can be found in Figure 5. straight edges give µ1 ≫ µ2 = 0.2. It is a measure of the local coherence.H1 (Ω)) :=  u(t) 0 dt 1/2 < ∞.

b := ess sup f . T ]. T ]). extremum principle) The problem (Pc ) has a unique solution u(x. L2(Ω) .14) ¯ Moreover.     exists a positive lower bound ν(K) for the eigenvalues       of D(Jρ (w)). T ].1 regularity. and σ. T ]. T ]. and it fulfils the extremum principle a ≤ u(x.          (C3) Uniform positive definiteness:    2 ∞ ¯ there   For all w ∈ L (Ω.13) (2. 0) = f (x) on Ω. and consider the problem          Ω  Ω        ∂t u = div (D(Jρ(∇uσ )) ∇u) on Ω × (0. IR2×2 ). This solution depends continuously on f with respect to . n = 0 on Γ × (0. u ∈ C∞ (Ω×(0. 2 1 (2. IR ) with |w(x)| ≤ K on Ω.       D(Jρ (∇uσ ))∇u.15) For a complete well-posedness proof one also has to establish stability with respect to perturbations of the diffusion equation. CONTINUOUS DIFFUSION FILTERING Assume that f ∈ L∞ (Ω). T > 0.               (C2) Symmetry:     2×2  d12 (J) = d21 (J) for all symmetric matrices J ∈ IR . ρ ≥ 0. This topic will not be addressed here. t) in the distributional sense which satisfies u ∈ C([0.       u(x. Let a := ess inf f .         where the diffusion tensor D = (dij ) satisfies the following        properties:   (C1) Smoothness: D ∈ C∞ (IR2×2 .58 CHAPTER 2. 1 . ∂t u ∈ L (0.   (Pc ) Under these assumptions the following theorem. H1 (Ω)). which generalizes and extends results from [81. (2. can be proved. t) ≤ b on Ω × (0. L2 (Ω)) ∩ L2 (0. T . T . Theorem 1 (Well-posedness. 414]. H (Ω)).

Morel and e Coll [81].e. T . 211). with compact inclusion. convex and weakly compact subset W0 of into itself. Now. H1(Ω)) dt 2 2 W (0. we utilize Stampacchia’s truncation method (cf. ∞) for some constant C. T ) := w ∈ L2 (0. L (Ω)). T ] × Ω). uniqueness and regularity are straightforward anisotropic extensions of the proof for the isotropic case studied by Catt´. Therefore.2. u = U(u). T ]. p. Then one shows that U is a weakly continuous mapping from a nonempty. such that the Gronwall–Bellman inequality can be applied. T . By iterating. t)−b) ∂t u(x. H1(Ω)). 0] and 0 < G′ (s) ≤ C on (0. U reveals a fixed point u ∈ W0 . one deduces that u(t) ∈ H2 (Ω) for all t > 0. t ∈ [0. uniqueness and regularity Existence. Then. T ]. ϕ(t) := Ω H(u(x. we have |G(u(x. whose solution is shown to converge in C([0. We restrict ourselves to proving only the maximum principle. uniqueness follows from the fact that both solutions start with the same initial values. Finally an iterative linear scheme is investigated. The basic idea of the uniqueness proof consists of using energy estimates for the difference of two solutions. THEORETICAL RESULTS Proof: 59 (a) Existence. T . we just sketch the basic ideas of this proof. (b) Extremum principle In order to prove a maximum–minimum principle. Existence can be proved using Schauder’s fixed point theorem. dw ∈ L2 (0. i. Smoothness follows from classical bootstrap arguments and the general theory of parabolic equations [246]. one can establish that u is a ¯ strong solution of (Pc ) and u ∈ C∞ ((0. t) − b) dx. The minimum principle follows from the maximum principle when being applied to the initial datum −f . By the Cauchy–Schwarz inequality. [58]. Lions. s ∈ IR. T ) is contained in L (0.3. One considers the solution U(w) of a distributional linear version of (Pc ) where D depends on some function w instead of u. Since W (0. Since u(t) ∈ H1 (Ω) for all t > 0. Let G ∈ C1 (IR) be a function with G(s) = 0 on (−∞. t)| dx ≤ C · u(t)−b L2 (Ω) Ω · ∂t u(t) L2 (Ω) . L2 (Ω)) to the strong solution of (Pc ). we define s H(s) := 0 G(σ) dσ.

T ].14) we know that the right-hand side of this estimate exists. Therefore. T ]. and (2. T ].13). (2. 2 (2. ϕ ≥ 0 on [0. L2 (Ω)). In the same way as in the uniqueness proof in [81]. h ∈ L∞ (Ω) be two initial values and u. T ]. CONTINUOUS DIFFUSION FILTERING and by virtue of (2. t) − b ≤ 0 almost everywhere (a. pp. T ].) on Ω. Hence.16). w the corresponding solutions. we obtain u(x. T ] ≤ c · ∇u(t) 2 L2 (Ω) · u(t)−w(t) 2 L2 (Ω) . n dS =0 = Γ − Ω G (u−b) ∇u. we finally end up with the assertion ¯ u(x. Applying the Gronwall–Bellman lemma [57. the right-hand side of (2. 156–137] yields u(t)−w(t) 2 L2 (Ω) ≤ f −h 2 L2 (Ω) · exp c ·  t 0 ∇u(s) 2 L2 (Ω) ds .17) Since u ∈ C([0. Now from ϕ ∈ C[0. t) ≤ b on Ω × (0. it follows that ϕ ≡ 0 on [0. H(u(x. t)−f (x)) dx ≤ (2. By means of H(s) ≤ 0 ≤ ϕ(t) ≤ Ω C 2 s. one shows that there exists some constant c > 0 such that d dt u(t)−w(t) 2 L2 (Ω) ϕ(0) = 0.16) we have C u(t)−f 2 2 L2 (Ω) . and we get dϕ = dt = Ω G(u−b) ∂t u dx Ω G(u−b) div (D(Jρ (∇uσ )) ∇u) dx G(u−b) D(Jρ (∇uσ )) ∇u. for all t ∈ [0. Due to the smoothness of u for t > 0. ϕ is differentiable for t > 0. (c) Continuous dependence on the initial image Let f.  .17) tends to 0 = ϕ(0) for t → 0+ which proves the continuity of ϕ(t) in 0.e. D(Jρ(∇uσ )) ∇u dx ≥0 ≥0 ′ ≤ 0.60 CHAPTER 2.

T . Now. < δ. such that t 0 T ∇u(s) ∇u(s) T 2 L2 (Ω) ds ≤ 2 L2 (Ω) ds 0 1 ≤ ν = 1 ν 1 ν 0 Ω T ∇u(x. 2 which proves the continuous dependence on the initial data. Thus. let ǫ > 0 and choose δ := ǫ · exp Then for f −h L2 (Ω) −c u 2ν L2 (0. D(Jρ(∇uσ (x. we know that the right-hand of this estimate exists. s). .13). THEORETICAL RESULTS 61 ¯ By means of the extremum principle we know that u is bounded on Ω×[0.T .14).T .H1 (Ω)) . our proof does not require any monotony assumption.3. the preceding results imply L2 (Ω) u(t)−w(t) <ǫ ∀ t ∈ [0. T ]. s) dx ds L2 (Ω) 0 Ω T ≤ ≤ u(s) 0 ∂t u(s) ∂t u L2 (Ω) ds 1 u ν L2 (0. (2. More restrictive requirements – for instance f ∈ BUC(IR2 ) in order to apply the theory of viscosity solutions – are not necessary in our case. T ]. (b) Moreover. s)))∇u(x. s) dx ds u(x.2. Chapter 5 will illustrate this by presenting examples where contrast is enhanced. ∇uσ is also bounded.H1 (Ω)) L2 (0. Remarks: (a) We observe a strong smoothing effect which is characteristic for many diffusion processes: under fairly weak assumptions on the initial image (f ∈ L∞ (Ω)) we obtain an infinitely often differentiable solution for arbitrary small positive times. and prerequisite (C3) implies that there exists some constant ν = ν(σ.H1 (Ω)) ∂t u L2 (0.T .H1 (Ω)) . s) · div D(Jρ (∇uσ (x. By virtue of (2. s)))∇u(x. f L∞ (Ω) ) > 0. This has the advantage that contrast-enhancing processes are permitted as well.

This does not contradict contrast enhancement: In the case of two similar images. Much of the terminology used below is borrowed from [12]. we will never obtain results with grey value such as 257. Afterwards. if we start for instance with an image within the range [0. information-reducing image transformation. 2.18) where u(t) := u(. (2. the regularization damps the enhancement process in such a way that both images do not differ much after filtering.1 Invariances Let u(x.2. we shall not focus on further investigations of architectural requirements like recursivity. spatio-temporal image sequences or slices from medical CT or MRI sequences.. namely the question in which sense our evolution equation – which may allow contrast enhancement – can still be considered as a smoothing. CONTINUOUS DIFFUSION FILTERING (c) The continuous dependence of the solution on the initial image has significant practical impact as it ensures stability with respect to perturbations of the original image. we turn to a more crucial task. 2 . regularity and locality. To this end.4 Scale-space properties Let us now investigate scale-space properties of the class (Pc ) and juxtapose the results to other scale-spaces.4.2 (d) The extremum principle offers the practical advantage that. It is also closely related to smoothing scale-space properties. 255]. t ≥ 0. (e) The well-posedness results are essentially based on the fact that the regularization by convolution with a Gaussian allows to estimate ∇uσ L∞ (Ω) by u L∞ (Ω) . t) be the unique solution of (Pc ) and define the scale-space operator Tt by Tt f := u(t). as these qualities do not distinguish nonlinear diffusion scale-spaces from other ones. This property is responsible for the uniform positive definiteness of the diffusion tensor. We start with briefly discussing invariances. as we shall see in 2. The properties we discuss now illustrate that an invariance of Tt with respect to some image transformation P is characterized by the fact that Tt and P commute. This is of importance when considering stereo image pairs. where one leads to contrast enhancement and the other not.4. since we know that similar images remain similar after filtering.62 CHAPTER 2. t). 2.

Proposition 1 (Conservation of average grey value). and the filtered images will also be shifted by the same constant. (2. for instance proton densities in MR images. 408]. we have Tt (0) = 0. but not of u. Average grey level invariance Average grey level invariance is a further property in which diffusion scale-spaces differ from morphological scale-spaces. A constant average grey level is essential for scale-space based segmentation algorithms such as the hyperstack [307. t) dx for all t ≥ 0. (2. The average grey level 1 f (x) dx µ := |Ω| Ω (2. Then the Cauchy–Schwarz inequality . SCALE-SPACE PROPERTIES Grey level shift invariance 63 Since the diffusion tensor is only a function of Jρ (∇uσ ).22) is not affected by nonlinear diffusion filtering: 1 |Ω| Proof: Define I(t) := Ω Tt f dx = µ Ω ∀ t > 0. (2. Therefore.23) u(x. Tt (f + C) = Tt (f ) + C ∀ t ≥ 0.4.20) Reverse contrast invariance From D(Jρ (−∇uσ )) = D(Jρ (∇uσ )). the role of dilation and erosion has to be exchanged as well.21) This property is not fulfilled by classical morphological scale-space equations like dilation and erosion. a constant function is not affected by diffusion filtering. we may shift the grey level range by an arbitrary constant C. Moreover. It is also a desirable quality for applications in medical imaging where grey values measure physical qualities of the depicted object. it follows that Tt (−f ) = −Tt (f ) ∀ t ≥ 0. the evolution PDEs of the latter ones are not of divergence form and do not preserve the mean grey value.2. When reversing the contrast.19) (2. In general.

27) . (2.64 implies CHAPTER 2.24) |Ω| Ω Then Proposition 1 and grey level shift invariance imply that the order of M and Tt can be exchanged: M(Tt f ) = Tt (Mf ) ∀ t ≥ 0. (2.25) When studying diffusion filtering as a pure initial value problem in the domain IR . For t > 0. Average grey level invariance may be described by commuting operators. Then diffusion filtering fulfils Tt (τh f ) = τh (Tt f ) ∀ t ≥ 0. Theorem 1. then the eigenvalues of the diffusion tensor are unaltered and any eigenvector v is transformed into Rv. t)−f (x) dx ≤ |Ω|1/2 u(t)−f L2 (Ω) . 2 Translation invariance Define a translation τh by (τh f )(x) := f (x + h). when introducing an averaging operator M : L1 (Ω) → L1 (Ω) which maps f to a constant image with the same mean grey level: 1 (Mf )(y) := f (x) dx ∀ y ∈ Ω. Isometry invariance Let R ∈ IR2×2 be an orthogonal transformation. the preceding inequality gives the continuity of I(t) in 0. L (Ω)). Thus. n dS = 0. I(t) must be constant for all t ≥ 0. the divergence theorem and the boundary conditions yield dI = dt ∂t u dx = Ω Γ D(Jρ (∇uσ ))∇u. it makes no difference whether the orthogonal transformation is applied before or after diffusion filtering: Tt (Rf ) = R(Tt f ) ∀ t ≥ 0. This leads us to translation and isometry invariance. (2.26) This is a consequence of the fact that the diffusion tensor depends on Jρ (∇uσ ) solely. but not explicitly on x. Since u ∈ C([0. CONTINUOUS DIFFUSION FILTERING |I(t)−I(0)| = 2 Ω u(x. 2 Hence. it also makes sense to investigate Euclidean transformations of an image. If we apply R to f by defining Rf (x) := f (Rx). (2. T ].

η2 of the Hessian Hess(u) are positive.28) A sufficient condition for the causality equation (2. if ξ is a local minimum. nonenhancement of local extrema generally does not imply that their number is nonincreasing.4. the first term of the right-hand side of (2. θ) < 0. 1. iso-intensity linking through the scales is possible and a structure at a coarse scale can (in principle) be traced back to the original image (causality). For this reason. and ∂t u < 0 if ξ is a maximum.28) to hold is requiring that local extrema with positive or negative definite Hessians are not enhanced: an extremum in ξ at time θ satisfies ∂t u > 0 if ξ is a minimum. ∂t u(ξ. θ))) is bounded. 3 . [30] in the context of linear diffusion filtering.28).2. Then.2 Information-reducing properties Nonenhancement of local extrema Koenderink [240] required that a scale-space evolution should not create new level curves when increasing the scale parameter. he imposed that at spatial extrema with nonvanishing determinant of the Hessian isophotes in scalespace are upwards convex. as we shall see now. ∆u = trace(Hess(u)) = η1 + η2 > 0. θ) with nonvanishing Hessian. θ).2.29) giving immediately the causality requirement (2.3 Theorem 2 (Nonenhancement of local extrema). (2. cf. However.30) (2. for instance.5 and [342]. Then we have 2 2 2 2 ∂t u = i=1 j=1 ∂xi dij (Jρ (∇uσ )) ∂xj u + i=1 j=1 dij (Jρ (∇uσ )) ∂xi xj u. (2. Let u be the unique solution of (Pc ) and consider some θ > 0. (2. it is also satisfied by nonlinear diffusion scale-spaces. Nonenhancement of local extrema has first been used by Babaud et al. ∂t u(ξ. SCALE-SPACE PROPERTIES 65 2. if ξ is a local maximum. As in the linear diffusion case.32) vanishes in (ξ. Thus. This implication is easily seen: In the first case.31) Proof: Let D(Jρ (∇uσ )) =: (dij (Jρ (∇uσ ))). θ) = 0 and ∂xi dij (Jρ (∇uσ (ξ. He showed that this constraint can be written as sgn(∂t u) = sgn(∆u). (2.32) Since ∇u(ξ.. the eigenvalues η1 . If this is satisfied. Suppose that ξ ∈ Ω is a local extremum of u(. θ) > 0.4.

there exists an orthogonal matrix S ∈ IR2×2 such that S T DS = diag(λ1 .15) following Hummel’s reasoning. pp. see [189] for more details. θ). B := (bij ) := S T HS are negative definite. let us assume that (ξ. which do violate this principle. The following theorem states that anisotropic diffusion filtering always leads to a constant steadystate. . It should be noted that nonenhancement of local extrema is just one possibility to end up with Koenderink’s causality requirement. Hence. and by the invariance of the trace with respect to orthogonal transformations it follows that ∂t u(ξ. for t → ∞. nonlinear diffusion is always in the forward region at extrema. we obtain the simplest possible image representation. θ) = trace (DH) = trace (S T DS S T HS) = trace (ΛB) 2 = i=1 λi bii < 0.66 CHAPTER 2. 2 Nonenhancement of local extrema distinguishes anisotropic diffusion from classical contrast enhancing methods such as high-frequency emphasis [163. θ) is a local maximum where H := Hess(u(ξ. it is desirable that. one proceeds in the same way utilizing the positive definiteness of the Hessian. Lyapunov functionals and behaviour for t → ∞ Since scale-spaces are intended to subsequently simplify an image. λ2 being the positive eigenvalues of D. 182– 183]. 2). λ2 ) =: Λ with λ1 . θ)) and. θ))) is positive definite. Now. Then we have bii < 0 (i = 1. namely a constant image with the same average grey value as the original one. thus. CONTINUOUS DIFFUSION FILTERING We know that the diffusion tensor D := D(Jρ (∇uσ (ξ. This is due to the class of Lyapunov functionals associated with the diffusion process. Although possibly behaving like backward diffusion across edges. Another way to establish causality is via the extremum principle (2. This ensures its stability. If ξ is a local minimum of u(x.

e. b. V ∈ C[0. b] with r ′′ ≥ 0 on [a.4. if r ′′ > 0 on [a. respectively. the function V (t) := Φ(u(t)) := Ω r(u(x. for all t ≥ 0. then V (t) = Φ(u(t)) is a strict Lyapunov functional: (iii) (iv) (v) ¯ on Ω a. Suppose that u is the solution of (Pc ) and let a. b] with r ′′ ≥ 0 on [a. µ and M be defined as in (Pc ).2. b]. . on Ω ¯ If t > 0. then V ′ (t) = 0 if and only if u(t) = Mf on Ω. t→∞ lim u(t) − Mf Lp (Ω) =0 for ≤ =  Ω 1  |Ω| 1 r |Ω| Ω  Ω u(x. SCALE-SPACE PROPERTIES 67 Theorem 3 (Lyapunov functionals and behaviour for t → ∞). b]. t) dx dy   r(u(x. t)) dx Ω r(u(x. ∞) ∩ C1 (0. ∞). t)) dx (2.34) = Φ(u(t)).33) is a Lyapunov functional: (i) (ii) Φ(u(t)) ≥ Φ(Mf ) for all t ≥ 0.24). T ] p ∈ [1. Then the following properties are valid: (a) (Lyapunov functionals) For all r ∈ C2 [a. t) = µ is uniform on Ω. Φ(Mf ) = Ω t→∞ ¯ In the 1D case. ∞) and V ′ (t) ≤ 0 for all t > 0.22) and (2. Moreover. the convergence lim u(x. on Ω and ¯ u(t) = Mf on Ω × (0. (b) (Convergence) (i) (ii) Proof: (a) (i) Since r ∈ C2 [a. we know that r is convex on [a.e. Φ(u(t)) = Φ(Mf ) ⇐⇒ u(t) = Mf u(t) = Mf V (0) = V (T ) for T > 0 ⇐⇒ (if t > 0) (if t = 0) f = Mf a. b]. Using the average grey level invariance and Jensen’s inequality we obtain. (2. t)) dx dy (2. b].

D(Jρ(∇uσ ))∇u dx ≥0 ≥0 ≤ 0. the divergence theorem yields V ′ (t) = Ω r ′ (u) div (D(Jρ(∇uσ ))∇u) dx r ′ (u) D(Jρ(∇uσ ))∇u. ¯ If t > 0.68 CHAPTER 2. |Ω|) and α := 1 |Ω1 | u dx = Ω1 1 |Ω2 | u dx =: β. the limit t → 0+ gives the announced continuity in 0. L2 (Ω)). we may choose a constant L := max |r ′(s)| s∈[a. |Ω2 | ∈ (0. Then. CONTINUOUS DIFFUSION FILTERING (ii) Let us start by proving the continuity of V (t) in 0. T ]. (iii) Let Φ(u(t)) = Φ(Mf ). there exists a partition Ω = Ω1 ∪ Ω2 with |Ω1 |.b] such that for all t > 0. the Lipschitz condition |r(u(x. Thus.34) implies that u(t) = const. n dS Γ =0 = − Ω r ′′ (u) ∇u. t))−r(f (x))| ≤ L |u(x. b] and 1 r |Ω|  Ω u dx = r  |Ω1 | |Ω2 | α+ β |Ω| |Ω| . then u(t) is continuous in Ω. Thanks to the maximum–minimum principle. b] it follows that r is strictly convex on [a. assume ¯ that u is not constant on Ω. b]. Let us now show that equality in ¯ the estimate (2. on Ω. on Ω.e. t)−f (x)| is verified a. From this and the Cauchy–Schwarz inequality. we know that V is differentiable for t > 0 and V ′ (t) = Ω r ′ (u) ut dx. we get |V (t)−V (0)| ≤ |Ω|1/2 r(u(t))−r(f ) ≤ |Ω|1/2 L u(t)−f L2(Ω) L2 (Ω) . Ω2 From r ′′ > 0 on [a. by the continuity of u. To this end. By Theorem 1 and the boundedness of r ′ on [a. and by virtue of u ∈ C([0.

t). SCALE-SPACE PROPERTIES |Ω1 | |Ω1 | r(α) + r(β) |Ω| |Ω| 1 1 r(u) dx + r(u) dx ≤ |Ω| |Ω| < Ω1 Ω2 69 = 1 |Ω| r(u) dx. V ′ (t) = − r ′′ (u) ∇u. θ) − µ| dx ≤ |Ω|1/2 u(θ) − Mf L2 (Ω) = 0. t) dx >0 Ω and the smoothness of u we obtain ¯ ∇u. t) = µ on Ω. on Ω. the Cauchy–Schwarz inequality gives |u(x. Ω Since u ∈ C([0. For θ > 0.e. D(Jρ(∇uσ ))∇u ¯ on Ω × (0. Thanks to the ¯ average grey value invariance we finally obtain u(t) = Mf on Ω. for all x ∈ Ω. this yields u(x. there exists some constant ν > 0. on Ω. D(Jρ(∇uσ (x. we have ∇u(x. let u(x. Thus. we have u(θ) = Mf for all θ > 0. From (i) and (ii). (iv) Let t > 0 and V ′ (t) = 0.34) we observe that.) on Ω implies Φ(u(t)) = Φ(Mf ). D(Jρ(∇uσ ))∇u = 0 on Ω. we conclude that Φ(u(θ)) = Φ(Mf ) for all θ > 0. T ]. ∞). Ω If we utilize this result in the estimate (2. Conversely. t)) ∇u(x.4. So let us turn to the case t = 0.e. Thus. Conversely. By the uniform boundedness of D. the limit θ → 0+ finally yields u(0) = Mf a. L2 (Ω)). ¯ Φ(u(t)) = Φ(Mf ) implies that u(t) = const. and the average grey level invariance finally gives u(x. on Ω. D(Jρ(∇uσ ))∇u dx = 0. Then from 0 = V ′ (t) = − r ′′ (u(x. Due to the continuity of ∇u.e. t) = µ on Ω. Ω . t) = 0 a. t) = const.2. Then. t)))∇u(x. for t > 0. such that ν |∇u|2 ≤ ∇u. it is obvious that u(t) = Mf (a.

Thus.) on Ω holds for all t ∈ [0. For t > 0. we know that v(t) f −Mf L∞ (Ω) . Therefore. for 1 ≤ p < q < ∞. Since V is decreasing. the limit t → 0+ yields f = Mf a. on Ω. D(Jρ(∇vσ ))∇v dx. Then for any t ∈ [ǫ. if u(t) = Mf (a.e. q ≥ 2. T ]. p. We multiply this equation by v. Now. . we have V (t) = const. T ]. integrate. Ω Ω Since ∇vσ is bounded. and part (iv) implies that u(t) = Mf on Ω. [9. there exists some x0 with v(x0 ) = 0. Ω As u ∈ C([0. o v(t) Lp (Ω) ≤ |Ω|(1/p)−(1/q) · v(t) Lq (Ω) → 0. This yields d v dt 2 L2 (Ω) ≤ −2ν C0 v 2 L2 (Ω) and hence the exponential decay of v L2 (Ω) to 0. for q ∈ IN. and use the divergence theorem to obtain vvt dx = − ∇v. we find some ν > 0 such that 1d ( v 2 dt 2 L2 (Ω) ) ≤ −ν ∇v 2 L2 (Ω) . T ]. (b) (i) By the grey level shift invariance we know that v := u−Mf satisfies the diffusion equation as well. we get v(t) q Lq (Ω) L∞ (Ω) is bounded by ≤ f −Mf q−2 L∞ (Ω) · v(t) 2 L2 (Ω) → 0.e. it is evident that V (0) = V (T ). Let ǫ > 0. CONTINUOUS DIFFUSION FILTERING (v) Suppose that V (T ) = V (0). T ]. This proves the assertion.70 CHAPTER 2. we have V ′ (t) = 0. Poincar´’s e inequality (cf. L2 (Ω)). the Cauchy–Schwarz inequality gives |f − Mf | dx ≤ |Ω|1/2 f − u(t) L2 (Ω) . and H¨lder’s inequality gives. on [0. Conversely. 122]) may be applied giving v 2 L2 (Ω) ≤ C0 ∇v 2 L2 (Ω) with some constant C0 = C0 (Ω) > 0. By the maximum principle.

a). ¯ This also gives u(tij ) → u in L2 (0. SCALE-SPACE PROPERTIES 71 (ii) To prove uniform convergence in the one-dimensional setting. Hence. ∞) ∩ C1 (0. there exists a subsequence (tij ) → ∞ and some u with ¯ u(tij ) → u in C0.4. (2. a] o 1 [7. (ti )i∈IN → ∞ and from the convergence of (V (i))i∈IN it follows that V ′ (ti ) → 0. Thus.37) Part (a) tells us that u(t)−Mf p p (Ω) is a Lyapunov function for p ≥ 2.2. the space of H¨lder-continuous functions on [0. is compact for α ∈ (0. a].36) L2 (Ω) → 0. Since we already know from (b)(i) ¯ 2 that u(tij ) → Mf in L (0. 144] we know that the embedding from H1 (0. Thus. 9–12].35) Thanks to the uniform positive definiteness of D there exists some ν > 0 such that. (2. From part (a) we know that V (t) := a 0 u2 (x. Therefore. By virtue of the Rellich– Kondrachov theorem [7. i+1) : V ′ (ti ) = V (i + 1) − V (i). p. pp. Since V ∈ C[0. ∞) the mean value theorem implies ∃ ti ∈ (i. Equations (2. a V (t) = −2 ′ u2 D(Jρ (∂x uσ )) dx x 0 a ≤ −2ν ≤ 0.α [0. Let Ω = (0. Hence. a). the sequence (V (i))i∈IN converges. u(t)−Mf L∞ (Ω) = lim u(t)−Mf Lp (Ω) p→∞ . a). it follows that u = Mf . 2 ). a) into C0. we can generalize and adapt methods from [202] to our case. u(ti ) is a bounded sequence in H1 (0. a].36) yield ux (ti ) u2 dx x 0 (2.35) and (2. a). for t > 0. ¯ j→∞ lim u(tij ) − Mf L∞ (Ω) = 0. t) dx is nonincreasing and bounded from below.α [0. L Thus.

∞): (a) (b) u(t) Lp (Ω) for all p ≥ 2. the competition evolves in a certain direction all the time: although backward diffusion may be locally superior. Corollary 1 (Special Lyapunov functionals). Then the following functions are decreasing for t ∈ [0. Therefore. (c) H[u(t)] := Ω u(x. t) − µ)2n dx for all n ∈ IN. Considering the Lyapunov functions associated with r(s) := |s|p . 1 |Ω| Ω M2n [u(t)] := (u(x. lim u(t)−Mf t→∞ (2. Let us have a closer look at what might be the meaning of this global result in the context of image processing. Since the class (Pc ) does not forbid contrast enhancement it admits processes where forward diffusion has to compete with backward diffusion. r(s) := (s−µ)2n and r(s) := s ln s. As a special case of (a) it follows that the energy u(t) 2 2 (Ω) is reduced by L diffusion. Theorem 3 is of importance as it states that the regularization by convolving with Kσ tames the backward diffusion in such a way that forward diffusion wins in the long run. Part (b) gives a probabilistic interpretation of anisotropic diffusion filtering. the preceding theorem gives the following corollary. Consider the intensity in an image f as a random variable Zf with distribution . Let u be the solution of (Pc ) and a and µ be defined as in (Pc ) and (2. t)) dx. Moreover.72 CHAPTER 2. Corollary 1 offers multiple possibilities of how to interpret nonlinear anisotropic diffusion filtering as a smoothing transformation. The smoothness of u establishes finally that the convergence t→∞ lim u(x. if a > 0. t) = µ 2 ¯ is uniform on Ω. the global result – denoted by the Lyapunov functional – becomes permanently better for forward diffusion. respectively. CONTINUOUS DIFFUSION FILTERING is also nonincreasing. t) ln(u(x.37) we conclude that t→∞ L∞ (Ω) exists and from lim u(t)−Mf L∞ (Ω) = 0.22).

SCALE-SPACE PROPERTIES 73 Ff (z). t)) dx Ω (2. in spite of possible contrast-enhancing properties. are overcompensated by smoothing in other areas.4. The interpretation of the entropy in terms of Lyapunov functionals carries also over to generalized entropies. . Since anisotropic diffusion filters increase the entropy the corresponding scale-space embeds the genuine image f into a family of subsequently likelier versions of it which contain less information. Higher moments are more difficult to interpret. By the average grey level invariance. i. although they do provide important information for tasks like texture discrimination [163. All decreasing even moments demonstrate that the image becomes smoother during diffusion filtering. In a classic scale-space representation. In particular. (2. Let us finally point out another interpretation of the Lyapunov functionals. It is a common tool for constructing measures for the relative smoothness of the intensity distribution. Moreover. pp. one transforms the image from a local to a more global 4 Without loss of generality we omit the normalization.39) The second central moment (the variance) characterizes the spread of the intensity about its mean. By increasing t. the time t plays the role of the scale parameter. a measure of uncertainty and missing information [63]. If we choose another probabilistic model of images. From all the previous considerations. we may regard it also as a two-dimensional density. 414–415]. see [390] for more details.40) is called the entropy of u(t).e. (2.38) and it follows that M2n [u(t)] is just the even central moment z−EZu(t) IR 2n dFu(t) (z). then part (c) characterizes the information-theoretical side of our scale-space. Provided the initial image f is strictly positive on Ω. for t → ∞. local effects such as edge enhancement. anisotropic diffusion does really simplify the original image in a steady way.4 Then. µ is equal to the expected value EZu(t) := IR z dFu(t) (z). we recognize that. t) ln(u(x.2. it helps to explain the success of nonlinear diffusion filtering as a preprocessing step for subsampling as observed in [144]. namely a constant image. Hence. which object to increase central moments. Ff (z) is the probability that an arbitrary grey value Zf of f does not exceed z. The fourth moment is frequently used to describe the relative flatness of the grey value distribution. S[u(t)] := − u(x. This informationreducing property indicates that anisotropic diffusion might be generally useful in the context of image compression. the process reaches the state with the lowest possible information.

for linear diffusion scale-spaces and morphological scale-spaces. This can be achieved by taking some Lyapunov function Φ(u(t)) and investigating the expression Ψ(u(t)) := Φ(f ) − Φ(u(t)) . . It gives the average globality of u(t) and its value can be used to measure the distance of u(t) from the initial state f and the final state Mf . We have seen in Chapter 1 that. it is possible to associate with the evolution time a corresponding spatial scale. 308]. one can only define an average measure for the globality of the representation. the situation is more complicated. Φ(f ) − Φ(Mf ) (2.74 CHAPTER 2.41) We observe that Ψ(t) increases from 0 to 1. CONTINUOUS DIFFUSION FILTERING representation. Experiments in this direction can be found in [431. Prescribing a certain value for Ψ provides us with an a-posteriori criterion for the stopping time of the nonlinear diffusion process. In the nonlinear diffusion case. Since the smoothing is nonuniform. however.

N ≥ 2. whose components fj .. extremum principles. In order to specify the requirements for our semidiscrete filter class we first recall a useful definition of irreducible matrices [407.Chapter 3 Semidiscrete diffusion filtering The goal of this chapter is to study a semidiscrete framework for diffusion scalespaces where the image is sampled on a finite grid and the scale parameter is continuous. average grey level invariance. Afterwards we shall discuss whether it is possible to obtain such filters from spatial discretizations of the continuous models that have been investigated in Chapter 2. 3. and convergence to a constant steady-state.. We will see that there exists a finite stencil on which a difference approximation of the spatial derivatives are in accordance with the semidiscrete scale-space framework.kr ∈ J with k0 = i and kr = j such that akp kp+1 = 0 for p = 0.N represent the grey values at each pixel. 18–20]. We denote the index set {1. Definition 1 (Irreducibility).....r−1.. Lyapunov functions. j = 1. N} by J.1 The general model A discrete image can be regarded as a vector f ∈ IRN .... A matrix A = (aij ) ∈ IRN ×N is called irreducible if for any i. The semidiscrete problem class (Ps ) we are concerned with is defined in the following way: 75 .. . This leads to a system of nonlinear ordinary differential equations (ODEs).. j ∈ J there exist k0 . We shall investigate conditions under which one can establish similar properties as in the continuous setting concerning well-posedness.... pp.

while average grey value invariance uses (S2) and (S3).76 CHAPTER 3. while (S4) and (S5) play a similar role as the nonnegativity of the eigenvalues of D and its uniform positive definiteness. aij (u) ≥ 0 ∀ i = j. IRN ×N ) for every bounded (Ps )    subset of IRN .2 Theoretical results Before we can establish scale-space results. (S2) and (S3) correspond to the specific structure of the divergence expression with a symmetric diffusion tensor D.            N Not all of these requirements are necessary for every theoretical result below.        N   ∀ u ∈ IR . dt u(0) = f. respectively.                                where A = (aij ) has the following properties: (S1) Lipschitz-continuity of A ∈ C(IRN . Find a function u ∈ C1 ([0. (S5) irreducibility for all u ∈ IRN . ∞). the proof of a maximum–minimum principle involves (S3) and (S4). SEMIDISCRETE DIFFUSION FILTERING Let f ∈ IRN . 3. j∈J (S3) vanishing row sums: (S4) nonnegative off-diagonals: aij (u) = 0 ∀ i ∈ J.       N   ∀ u ∈ IR .   (S2) symmetry: aij (u) = aji (u) ∀ i. (S1) is needed for well-posedness. and strict Lyapunov functions and the convergence to a constant steady-state require (S5) in addition to (S2)–(S4). j ∈ J. . IRN ) which satisfies an       initial value problem of type   du = A(u) u. This is done in the theorem below which also states the continuous dependence of the solution and a maximum–minimum principle. it is of importance to ensure the existence of a unique solution. This indicates that these properties reveal some interesting parallels to the continuous setting from Chapter 2: In both cases we need smoothness assumptions to ensure well-posedness.      ∀ u ∈ IR . The existence of Lyapunov functions can be established by means of (S2)–(S4).

u) := ψ(u) := A(u) u is continuous on B0 := [0. In order to prove existence and uniqueness of a solution of (Ps ) in R0 := (t. θ].2) (3. Assume that the problem (Ps ) has a unique solution on [0. j∈J ∀ i ∈ J. T )]. u) satisfies a global Lipschitz condition on R0 with respect to u. For every T > 0 the problem (Ps ) has a unique solution u(t) ∈ C1 ([0. since it is a composition of continuous functions. THEORETICAL RESULTS 77 Theorem 4 (Well-posedness. However. IRN ). ∀ t ∈ [0.2. o Let t0 := 0 and β > 0. T ] × u ∈ IRN u ∞ ≤ f ∞ +β . T ]. p.1) (3. This solution depends continuously on the initial value and the right-hand side of the ODE system. t0 +min( β . T ]. First we show that the derivative of the largest component of u(t) is nonpositive for every . by the compactness of B0 there exists some c > 0 with φ(t. u) ∞ ≤c ∀ (t. φ(t. j∈J Proof: (a) Local existence and uniqueness Local existence and uniqueness are proved by showing that our problem satisfies the requirements of the Picard–Lindel¨f theorem [432. (b) Maximum–minimum principle We prove only the maximum principle.3. extremum principle). this follows directly from the fact that A is Lipschitzcontinuous on {u ∈ IRN | u−f ∞ ≤ β}. u) ∈ B0 . since the proof for the minimum principle is analogous. u) t ∈ [t0 . (3. and it satisfies the extremum principle a ≤ ui (t) ≤ b where a := min fj . Evidently. 59]. Moreover.3) b := max fj . u−f c ∞ ≤ β ⊂ B0 we have to show that φ(t.

for t2 := min ϑp . t1 ).4). Let ε > 0 and set   εt   . duk dt = j∈J akj (u) uj akk (u) uk + j∈J\{k} = ≤ (S4) akj (u) uj ≥0 ≤uk uk · 0. let us consider some p ∈ P . let P := {p ∈ J | uεp (0) = max uεj (0)}.6) Next. akj (u) j∈J = (3. uε (t) := u(t) −  .  . j∈J duεp (0) = dt By means of i∈J\P dup (0) − ε < 0 dt ≤0 ∀ p ∈ P. (3. it follows that p∈P ∀ t ∈ [0. ϑp ) max uεp(t) < max uεj (0) p∈P j∈J ∀ t ∈ (0. ϑp ). t2 ). θ]. (3. [201]). Let uk (ϑ) := max uj (ϑ) for some arbitrary ϑ ∈ [0. Then. Due to (3.  . θ) with duεp (t) < 0 dt Thus.4) Let us now prove that this implies a maximum principle (cf. we have uεp (t) < uεp (0) and.5) max uεi (0) < max uεj (0). for t = ϑ.78 CHAPTER 3. If we keep j∈J this k fixed we obtain. ∀ t ∈ (0.  εt Moreover.7) . θ) such that i∈J\P max uεi(t) < max uεj (0) j∈J ∀ t ∈ [0. θ]. j∈J and the continuity of u there exists some t1 ∈ (0. by (3. SEMIDISCRETE DIFFUSION FILTERING t ∈ [0.5) and the smoothness of u we may find a ϑp ∈ (0. (3.

T )]. t3 ) with uεk (t3 ) − uεk (t4 ) duεk (t5 ) = dt t3 − t4 (3. (3.10) duεk (t) < 0 dt The mean value theorem.3.9) > 0.8) Now we prove that this estimate can be extended to the case t ∈ (0. Then the minimality of t3 yields j∈J uεk (t) < uεk (t3 ) and inequality (3. (c) Global existence and uniqueness Global existence and uniqueness follow from local existence and uniqueness when being combined with the extremum principle. the estimates (3. (3. we know that the problem (Ps ) has a unique solution u(t) for t ∈ [t0 . θ). implies that we find a t5 ∈ (t4 .2. there exists some t3 which is the smallest time in (0.6) and (3.4) gives duεk (t3 ) = dt du dt ∀ t ∈ (0. c . Using the notations and results from (a).8) must be valid on the entire interval (0. Then. however. t0 + min( β . θ). for t0 := min(t1 . θ) such that max uεj (t3 ) = max uεj (0). t3 ) with ∀ t ∈ (t4 . θ]. which contradicts (3. t2 ). Hence. Together with u = lim uε and the continuity of u this yields the announced ε→0 maximum principle max uj (t) ≤ max uj (0) j∈J j∈J ∀ t ∈ [0. by virtue of the intermediate value theorem. THEORETICAL RESULTS Hence. t3 ). (3. t3 ]. t0 ).7) give max uεj (t) < max uεj (0) j∈J j∈J 79 ∀ t ∈ (0. (3. dt ≤0 Due to the continuity of there exists some t4 ∈ (0. assume the opposite is true. To this end.9) duk (t3 ) − ε < 0.10). j∈J j∈J Let uεk := max uεj (t3 ).

In this case the results in [412. with respect to its second argument. As a consequence. u) t ∈ [t1 . u−g c ∞ ≤β . min( 2β . u) satisfies a global Lipschitz condition on Sα := (t. p.80 CHAPTER 3. t1 + min( β . (Ps ) reveals a unique solution on [0. 93] ensure that for every ε > 0 there exists a δ > 0 such that the solution u of ˜ the perturbed problem d˜ u ˜ ˜ = φ(t. (d) Continuous dependence Let u(t) be the solution of du = φ(t. T ]. u) ∞ ≤c ∀ (t. dt u(t1 ) = g. u) = A(u)u is continuous on B1 := [0. T )]. Hence. it is sufficient to prove that φ(t. t1 +min( β . Clearly. with the same c as in (a). Using the same considerations as in (a) one shows that φ is Lipschitz-continuous on R1 := (t. v) t ∈ [0. u) is continuous. T )]. t) = ψ(u) = A(u)u. u). by iterating c this reasoning. dt ˜ u(0) = f ˜ . T ]. φ(t. dt u(0) = f for t ∈ [0. u). Hence. u) ∈ B1 . and by the extremum principle we know that B1 ⊂ B0 . the existence of a unique solution can be extended to the entire interval [0. the considered problem has a unique solution on [t1 . and consider the problem c du = A(u) u. φ(t. and. v−u ∞ ≤α . T ] and φ(u. c Therefore. In order to show that u(t) depends continuously on the initial data and the right-hand side of the ODE system. T ] × u ∈ IRN u ∞ ≤ g ∞ +β . g := u(t1 ). the extremum principle is valid on [0. T ] as well. T ). SEMIDISCRETE DIFFUSION FILTERING Now let t1 := t0 + min( β . T )]. and that there exists some α > 0 such that φ(t.

Similar to the the local existence and uniqueness proof. 2 3.11) ∀ t ≥ 0. < δ for v−u ∞ < α exists in [0. T ] and satisfies the inequality u(t) − u(t) ˜ ∞ < ε. ∞) and concludes the proof. k∈J j∈J j∈J duj = dt j∈J ajk (u) uk = j∈J k∈J which shows that uj (t) is constant on [0. (3. SCALE-SPACE PROPERTIES ˜ with continuous φ and ˜ φ(t. Thus. So let us focus on average grey level invariance now. v) − φ(t.12) Proof: By virtue of (S2) and (S3) we have j∈J ajk (u) = 0 for all k ∈ J. Proposition 2 (Conservation of average grey value). v) ˜ f −f ∞ ∞ 81 < δ. The average grey level 1 fj µ := N j∈J is not affected by the semidiscrete diffusion filter: 1 N uj (t) = µ j∈J (3. translation invariance only makes sense for translations in grid direction with multiples of the grid size.3.3. the global Lipschitz condition on Sα follows direcly from the fact that A is Lipschitz-continuous on {v ∈ IRN | v−u ∞ ≤ α}. for t ≥ 0. On the other hand. . 2 This property is in complete accordance with the result for the continuous filter class.3 Scale-space properties It is evident that properties such as grey level shift invariance or reverse contrast invariance are automatically satisfied by every consistent semidiscrete approximation of the continuous filter class (Pc ). ajk (u) uk = 0. and isometry invariance is satisfied for consistent schemes up to an discretization error.

Moreover. b] we know that r is convex on [a. t→∞ Proof: (a) (i) Since r ′ is increasing on [a. ∞) and V ′ (t) ≤ 0 for all t ≥ 0. V ∈ C1 [0. 1  r uj Φ(c) = i=1 j=1 N 1  ≤ N i=1 N N N  N    N j=1 r(uj ) = j=1 r(uj ) (3.. and let c := (µ. b]. b]. Average grey level invariance and this convexity yield.2). . Then the following properties are valid: (a) (Lyapunov functions) For all r ∈ C1 [a. it is possible to find a large class of Lyapunov functions which establish smoothing scale-space properties and ensure that the image tends to a constant steady-state with the same average grey level as the initial image. the function V (t) := Φ(u(t)) := i∈J r(ui (t)) is a Lyapunov function: (i) (ii) Φ(u) ≥ Φ(c) for all t ≥ 0.11). b] with increasing r ′ on [a. SEMIDISCRETE DIFFUSION FILTERING Similar to the continuous setting. if r ′ is strictly increasing on [a. b.3). let a.82 CHAPTER 3. . respectively.. then V (t) = Φ(u(t)) is a strict Lyapunov function: (iii) (iv) Φ(u) = Φ(c) V ′ (t) = 0 ⇐⇒ u=c u=c ⇐⇒ (b) (Convergence) lim u(t) = c. and (3. (3. and µ be defined as in (3. Theorem 5 (Lyapunov functions and behaviour for t → ∞).13) = Φ(u). b]. µ)⊤ ∈ IRN .. µ. for all t ≥ 0. Let u(t) be the solution of (Ps ).

14) = Since r ′ is increasing. IRN ) and r ∈ C1 [a. (iii) Let us first prove that equality in the estimate (3. 1− N 1 N Then. we always have (ui+k − ui ) r ′ (ui ) − r ′ (ui+k ) ≤ 0.i(u) (ui −ui+k ) r ′ (ui+k ) ai.i+k (u) (ui+k −ui) r ′ (ui)−r ′ (ui+k ) .3. η := j=1 j=j0 uj 1 .i+k (u) (ui+k −ui) r ′ (ui ) ai+k. b]. b]. Hence. we get r 1 uj i=1 N N = r 1 N 1 ≤ N < N 1 η N 1 r(uj0 ) + 1− r(η) N N 1 r(uj0 ) + r(uj ) j=1 N 1− j=j0 1 uj + N 0 = 1 r(uj ). Using the prerequisites (S2) and (S3) we get V ′ (t) N = (S3) i=1 N N dui ′ r (ui ) dt aij (u) (uj −ui) r ′ (ui) N i−1 = i=1 j=1 N = i=1   + j=i+1 j=1 = + (S2) N N −i i=1 k=1 N N −i i=1 k=1 N N −i i=1 k=1  aij (u) (uj −ui ) r ′ (ui )  ai.14) implies that V ′ (t) ≤ 0 for t ≥ 0. η < uj0 . Since r ′ is strictly increasing on [a. SCALE-SPACE PROPERTIES 83 (ii) Since u ∈ C1 ([0. ∞). we know that r is strictly convex. ∞).3. it follows that V ∈ C1 [0. To this end. j=1 N . suppose that ui0 := min ui < max uj =: uj0 and let i j N With this and (S4). equation (3. (3.13) implies that all components of u are equal.

. t→∞ Now assume that η > 0. ≤0 and by virtue of the symmetry of A(u) it follows that aij (u) (uj −ui ) r ′ (ui)−r ′ (uj ) = 0 ∀ i.. we know that lim V (t) =: η exists and η ≥ 0. [180] for an introduction to these techniques. Since V (t) is decreasing and bounded from below by 0. Conversely. (3. From (3. The irreducibility of A(u) implies that there exist k0 .. Φ(x) < η ∀ x ∈ IRN . Since i0 and j0 are arbitrary.. . = ukr = uj0 . (3.14) we immediately conclude that V ′ (t) = 0. Conversely.84 CHAPTER 3.15) Now consider two arbitrary i0 . √ η). SEMIDISCRETE DIFFUSION FILTERING This shows that equality in (3.15) we get ui0 = uk0 = uk1 = .. |x−c| < β.i+k (u) (ui+k −ui ) r ′ (ui)−r ′ (ui+k ) . As r ′ is strictly increasing we have.. we obtain ui = const.. Consider the Lyapunov function V (t) := Φ(u(t)) := |u(t)−c|2 . for p = 0... By virtue of the grey level shift invariance we conclude that u = c. p = 0.. for all i ∈ J.. for β ∈ (0. . = 0 ⇐⇒ ukp = ukp+1 .kr ∈ J with k0 = i0 . j ∈ J. and the average grey level invariance gives u = c.16) By virtue of Φ(x) = |x − c|2 we know that. r − 1. Since |u(t)−c| is bounded from above by α := |f −c| we have |u(t)−c| ≤ α ∀ t ≥ 0.. kr = j0 . (b) The convergence proof is based on classical Lyapunov reasonings. which results from the choice r(s) := (s−µ)2 .14) we have 0 = V ′ (t) = N N −i i=1 k=1 ai. see e.g.. it is trivial that Φ(u) = Φ(c) for u = c. = uN ... for all i ∈ J. This proves the first implication. and akp kp+1 (u) = 0.r − 1. (iv) Let V ′ (t) = 0. j0 ∈ J. Then from the representation (3.13) implies that u1 = . (ukp −ukp+1 ) r ′ (ukp+1 )−r ′(ukp ) From this and (3. let ui = const.

it follows V (t) = V (0) + t→∞ t 0 V ′ (θ) dθ ≤ V (0) − tM which implies lim V (t) = −∞ and. and obtain the following corollary. Since Φ(u(t)) ≥ η we conclude that |u(t)−c| ≥ β So from (3.18) is increasing with respect to t. the compactness of S. ∞): (a) (b) (c) u(t) p for all p ≥ 2. if a > 0. 1 N N j=1 M2n [u(t)] := H[u(t)] := N (uj (t) − µ)2n for all n ∈ IN.l. Therefore.3. j=1 uj (t) ln(uj (t)). Then the following functions are decreasing for t ∈ [0.2) and (3. thus. contradicts (a)(i). β < α. According to (a)(iii) this yields lim u(t) = c.g. Since all p-norms (p ≥ 2) and all central moments are decreasing. Hence the assumption η > ρ is wrong and we must have η = ρ. 85 (3. t→∞ 2 As in the continuous case.17) we have u(t) ∈ {x ∈ IRN | β ≤ |x−c| ≤ α} =: S ∀ t ≥ 0. . we can consider the Lyapunov functions associated with r(s) := |s|p . while the discrete entropy N S[u(t)] := − uj (t) ln(uj (t)) j=1 (3.17) By (a)(ii). Let u be the solution of (Ps ) and a and µ be defined as in (3.16) and (3. respectively.3.o. SCALE-SPACE PROPERTIES Let w. ∀ t ≥ 0.11). Corollary 2 (Special Lyapunov functions). r(s) := (s−µ)2n and r(s) := s ln s.(iv). we observe that the semidiscrete setting reveals smoothing scale-space properties which are closely related to the continuous case. and β > 0 there exists some M > 0 such that V ′ (t) ≤ −M ∀ t ≥ 0.

j) is represented by a single index p(i.22) 2 dt n=1 l∈Nn (k) 2hl where Nn (k) consists of the one or two neighbours of pixel k along the n-th coordinate axis (boundary pixels have only one neighbour) and gk := g ((H(u))k ).. (3.4... .86 CHAPTER 3. Then a consistent spatial discretization of the isotropic diffusion equation with homogeneous Neumann boundary conditions can be written as 2 gl + gk duk = (ul − uk ). consider some pixel k = p(i. h2 are given by h1 := a1 /n1 and h2 := a2 /n2 .. IR2×2 ). The structure tensor requires the calculations of convolutions with ∇Kσ and Kρ .. (3.21) Thus... yj ) where yj := (j − 1 xi := (i − 2 ) h1 . however. dt (3. First we shall verify that this is easily done for isotropic models. N}. we may approximate the structure tensor by some matrix H(u) = (hij (u)) where H ∈ C∞ (IRN .. 3. . n1 } × {1. n2 } → {1. respectively. the mixed derivative terms make it more difficult to ensure nonnegative off-diagonal elements. To this end. j) with 1 ≤ i ≤ n1 and 1 ≤ j ≤ n2 represents the location (xi . j). SEMIDISCRETE DIFFUSION FILTERING 3. a1 ) × (0. a2 ) be discretized by a grid of N = n1 · n2 pixels such that a pixel (i.4 Relation to continuous models In this section we investigate whether it is possible to use spatial discretizations of the continuous filter class (Pc ) in order to construct semidiscrete diffusion models satisfying (S1)–(S5).23) . A constructive existence proof is presented showing that for a sufficiently large stencil it is always possible to find such a nonnegative discretization. (3. we may replace the diffusion tensor D(Jρ (∇uσ )) by some scalar-valued function g(Jρ (∇uσ )). Next. . Let us now verify that a standard FD space discretization of an isotropic variant of (Pc ) leads to a semidiscrete filter satisfying the requirements (S1)–(S5).20) 1 ) h2 . j). In vector–matrix notation (3.19) (3. These pixels can be numbered by means of an arbitrary bijection p: {1. pixel (i. 2 and the grid sizes h1 . This concept is illustrated by investigating the situation on a (3×3)-stencil in detail.22) becomes du = A(u) u.1 Isotropic case Let the rectangle Ω = (0. For this reason. In the anisotropic case.. In the spatially discrete case this comes down to specific vector–matrix multiplications. respectively.

r−1. (l = k).r−1. Then we have to find k0 .. Moreover. 2}. Then. since g is positive. In order to show that A is irreducible. which has some interesting relations to the limit case of a semidiscrete Perona–Malik model. such that kq and kq+1 are neighbours for q = 0. let us consider two arbitrary pixels k and l.. If k = l. Since H ∈ C∞ (IRN . By the construction of A it is also evident that all row sums vanish.. This proves (S5). we may choose any arbitrary path k0 . Remarks: (a) We observe that (S1)–(S5) are properties which are valid for all arbitrary pixel numberings.. IR2×2 ) and g ∈ C∞ (IR2×2 ).. IRN ×N ). we have A ∈ C∞ (IRN . (S3) is satisfied. thus. it follows that akl ≥ 0 for all k = l and. (b) The filter class (Pc ) is not the only family which leads to semidiscrete filters satisfying (S1)–(S5). reveals all the discussed wellposedness and scale-space properties [425].. This is due to the fact that the extremum principle limits the modulus of discrete gradient approximations.3. akq kq+1 = for some n ∈ {1. Hence. This proves (S1). For k = l. [332]. a semidiscrete version of the Perona– Malik filter – which is to a certain degree ill-posed in the continuous setting (cf..4.24) that akk < 0.24) akl := Let us now verify that (S1)–(S5) are fulfilled..24) and the symmetry of the neighbourhood relation: l ∈ Nn (k) ⇐⇒ k ∈ Nn (l). the spatial discretization implicitly causes a regularization.3. The symmetry of A follows directly from (3.e. (S4) holds.1) – also satisfies (S1)–(S5) and... These results are also in accordance with a recent paper by Pollak et al... (3. we already know from (3. thus.kr ∈ J with k0 = k and kr = l such that akq kq+1 = 0 for q = 0. They also report stable behaviour of their process. (else). Interestingly. 1. i. In this case we have the trivial path k = k0 = kr = l... RELATION TO CONTINUOUS MODELS where the matrix A(u) = (akl (u))kl is given by       gk +gl 2h2 n 2 n=1 l∈Nn (k) gk +gl 2h2 n 87 (l ∈ Nn (k)). They study an image evolution under an ODE system with a discontinuous right hand side. gkq + gkq+1 > 0 2h2 n      0 − ..kr ..

.. . 2 2 i = −2m+1. θi ]. (−2m + 1 ≤ i < −m). The “boundary pixels” of this stencil define 4m principal orientations βi ∈ (− π .... 2m according to βi :=   arctan        arccot arccot ih2 mh1 (2m−i)h1 mh2 (i−2m)h1 mh2 (|i| ≤ m). 2m−2}. θi+1 ] ∪ =:Ii (θi−1 . due to the mixed derivative expressions. where ψ ∈ (− π . βi +βi+1 = π ). . Then there exists some m(κ) ∈ IN such that div (D ∇u) reveals a second-order nonnegative FD discretization on a (2m+1)×(2m+1)-stencil. i=1 =:Ii θi := 1 + 2 arctan (i = 0). . Now let Jm := {1. βi +βi+1 < π ).. sin ψ)⊤ and (− sin ψ.. |i| ∈ Jm : (− π . 2 (i ∈ {1.. 2 (i ∈ {1... it is not obvious how to ensure (S4). 2 (i = 2m−1)... |k| ∈ Jm such that the splitting div (D ∇u) = ∂eβ0 α0 ∂eβ0u + ∂eβk αk ∂eβku + ∂eβ2m α2m ∂eβ2mu (3. The theorem below states that this is always possible for a sufficiently large stencil.. . (m < i ≤ 2m). 2m−2}. π ]. π ] into 4m−2 subin2 2 tervals Ii .. .25) θi := −θ−i (i ∈ {−2m+1.88 CHAPTER 3... −1}). 2m−2}. cos ψ)⊤ . SEMIDISCRETE DIFFUSION FILTERING 3.. Now we show that for 2 2 a suitable m there exists a stencil direction βk . Let D ∈ IR2×2 be symmetric positive definite with a spectral condition number κ. (i ∈ {1. 2m−1} and define a partition of (− π .. Let λ1 ≥ λ2 > 0 be the eigenvalues of D with corresponding eigenvectors (cos ψ. βi +βi+1 > π ).2 Anisotropic case If one wishes to transfer the results from the isotropic case to the general anisotropic setting the main difficulty arises from the fact that. Theorem 6 (Existence of a nonnegative discretization). . the nonnegativity of all offdiagonal elements of A(u). π ] = 2 2 where   0    1  arctan    2         π 4 π 2 π 2 2 cot βi −tan βi+1 2 cot βi −tan βi+1 −1 i=−2m+1 2m−1 (θi . Proof: Let us consider some m ∈ IN and the corresponding (2m+1)×(2m+1)-stencil. π ].4.. and It is not hard to verify that βi ∈ Ii for |i| ∈ Jm .

. So let us now verify (a)–(c). Once these assertions are proved a nonnegative second-order discretization of (3. (a) In order to use subsequent indices. Furthermore. This can be done by proving the following properties: (a) Let ψ ∈ Ik and D = a b . Then (3.26) is satisfied for λ1 ≤ min cot(ρk −βk ) tan ρk . and γ2 := α2m . 2m−1}). sin βi )⊤ reveals nonnegative “directional diffusivities” α0 . c − b tan βk ≥ 0.m θk 1 (θ + βk ) 2 k 1 β 2 k =: κk. α2m along the stencil orientations β0 .. αk .27) (|k| ∈ {1. m→∞ |i|∈Jm = ∞. θk−1 (|k| = 1).3. Then a nonnegative splitting of type (3.m (3. .. and ϕ2 := π . cot(βk −ηk ) cot ηk λ2 with ρk := ηk := (c) lim min κi. (3. let ϕ0 := 0.25) is bc possible if min a − b cot βk . ϕ1 := βk where ψ ∈ Ik .. γ1 := αk . ϕ1 and ϕ2 we obtain the linear system   div    2 2 i=0 γi cos2 ϕi i=0 γi sin ϕi cos ϕi γi sin ϕi cos ϕi  i=0  2 i=0 2 γi sin2 ϕi     ∇u . β2m ... 2m−2}).25) arises in a natural way. (|k| ∈ {2.26) (b) Inequality (3. as we shall see at the end of this chapter.25) 2 requires that div = + ∂ ∂x ∂ ∂y a b b c 2 ∇u = ∂ i=0 ∂eϕi 2 γi ∂u ∂eϕi cos ϕi γi (ux cos ϕi + uy sin ϕi ) i=0 2 sin ϕi γi(ux cos ϕi + uy sin ϕi ) i=0 = By comparing the coefficients and using the definition of ϕ0 . let γ0 := α0 ..  1 cos2 βk 0 γ0 a       0 sin βk cos βk 0   γ1  =  b  0 sin2 βk 1 γ2 c     . βk . (|k| = 2m−1).4. RELATION TO CONTINUOUS MODELS 89 with eβi := (cos βi .

Now.θk ) min − C(ϕ) .90 CHAPTER 3. γ1 = sin βk cos βk γ2 = c − b tan βk . (b) Let λ1 λ2 ≤ κk. θk ]. By defining 2 B(ϕ) := cos2 ϕ − sin ϕ cos ϕ cot βk . In particular. π ]. λ1 − λ2 ≥ 0. λ1 cos2 ψ + λ2 sin2 ψ (λ1 −λ2 ) sin ψ cos ψ (λ1 −λ2 ) sin ψ cos ψ λ1 sin2 ψ + λ2 cos2 ψ . In order to satisfy the nonnegativity of γ0 and γ2 we need that min a − b cot βk . SEMIDISCRETE DIFFUSION FILTERING which has the unique solution γ0 = a − b cot βk . since ψ ∈ Ik . (3. C(ϕ) := sin2 ϕ + sin ϕ cos ϕ cot βk we get C(ρk ) λ1 ≤ cot(ρk −βk ) tan ρk = − = λ2 B(ρk ) Since B(ϕ) < 0 on (βk .31) ϕ∈(βk . βk ]. (3. c − b tan βk ≥ 0. βk ∈ Ik we conclude that ψ and βk belong to the same quadrant. and since ψ.31) to the entire interval Ik = (θk−1 . 2 ∀ ϕ ∈ (βk . Thus.28) (3. γ1 is always nonnegative.m and consider the case 0 < βk < π .29) (3. b . θk ).30) From the structure of the eigenvalues and eigenvectors of D it is easily seen that b = (λ1 −λ2 ) sin ψ cos ψ. we have 0 ≤ λ1 B(ψ) + λ2 C(ψ) By the representation a b b c = = cos ψ − sin ψ sin ψ cos ψ λ1 0 0 λ2 cos ψ sin ψ − sin ψ cos ψ = (λ1 cos2 ψ + λ2 sin2 ψ) − (λ1 −λ2 ) sin ψ cos ψ cot βk . 2 ∀ ϕ ∈ [0. B(ϕ) and the continuity of B(ϕ) and C(ϕ) we may extend (3. π ) we have 2 λ1 B(ϕ) + λ2 C(ϕ) ≥ 0 Because of B(ϕ) ≥ 0 C(ϕ) ≥ 0 ∀ ϕ ∈ [− π .

1 − gm (i) the function gm (x) is bounded and attains its global maximum 1 xm := − 6 + 1 6 1 + 12 m2 h2 1 . RELATION TO CONTINUOUS MODELS we recognize that this is just the desired condition a − b cot βk ≥ 0. and the definition of θi implies that cot ρi − tan ρi = cot βi − tan βi+1 . yields cot ρi = tan ρi 1 cot βi − tan βi+1 + (cot βi − tan βi+1 )2 + 4 .4. Then. 91 (3. Solving for cot ρi and tan ρi .3.32). Then we have tan βi+1 = cot βi This gives (cot βi + tan βi+1 )2 = (cot βi − tan βi+1 )2 + 4 1− For m > in 1 h2 2 h1 (i + 1) h2 . ih2 1 4m2 i m2 h1 +i(i+1) h2 2 h h 2 1 =: 1 =: fm (i). respectively. mh1 mh1 = . In an analogous way one verifies that λ1 ≤ cot(βk −ηk ) cot ηk λ2 =⇒ c − b tan βk ≥ 0. ρi = θi .32) For the case − π < βk < 0 a similar reasoning can be applied leading also to 2 (3. −1 Let us now assume that 1 ≤ i ≤ m−1. h2 2 . (c) Let us first consider the case 1 ≤ i ≤ 2m−2. 2 By means of these results we obtain cot(ρi −βi ) tan ρi = cot βi + tan ρi = 1+ cot βi − cot ρi 2 (cot βi +tan βi+1 )2 (cot βi −tan βi+1 )2 +4 . 2 1 = − cot βi + tan βi+1 + (cot βi − tan βi+1 )2 + 4 .

92 CHAPTER 3. For m ≤ i ≤ 2m−2 similar calculations show that by means of tan βi+1 = cot βi one obtains m≤i≤2m−2 mh2 . For i = 2m−1 we have cot ρ2m−1 −β2m−1 tan ρ2m−1 π β2m−1 π β2m−1 − tan + 4 2 4 2 π β2m−1 + = tan2 4 2 → ∞ for m → ∞. in a similar way as above. (3. m→∞ lim |i|∈Jm min cot(ρi −βi ) tan ρi = ∞.34) we finally end up with the assertion m→∞ lim |i|∈Jm min κi. one establishes that m→∞ lim |i|∈Jm min cot(βi −ηi ) cot ηi = ∞. 2 . (3. min cot(ρi −βi ) tan ρi fm (xm ) − 1 → ∞ for m → ∞.m = ∞. SEMIDISCRETE DIFFUSION FILTERING Thus. (2m−i−1) h1 (2m−i) h1 = mh2 min cot(ρi −βi ) tan ρi → ∞ for m → ∞.34) From (3.33) and (3. = cot It is not hard to verify that for −2m + 1 ≤ i ≤ −1 the preceding results carry over. gm (i) ≤ gm (xm ) → 0+ which yields fm (i) ≤ This gives 1≤i≤m−1 for m → ∞. 1 → 1+ 1 − gm (xm ) ≥ 1+ 2 for m → ∞.33) Now. for 1 ≤ i ≤ m−1. Hence.

Thanks to the uniform positive definiteness of D there exists an upper limit for the spectral condition number of D. a (2m+1)×(2m+1)-stencil reveals much more directions than those 4m that are induced by the 8m “boundary pixels”. t)| ≤ 4 f √ L∞ (Ω) 2π σ ¯ on Ω × (0. Since m = 1 we have a partition of (− π . Therefore.4. π ] = (− π . π ] into 4m−2 = 2 subintervals: 2 2 (− π . Let us now illustrate the ideas in the proof of Theorem 6 by applying them to a practical example: We want to find a nonnegative spatial discretization of div (D∇u) on a (3×3)-stencil. only three directions are sufficient to guarantee a nonnegative directional splitting. where D= a b b c and a. t)| = |(∇Kσ ∗u)(x.3. Moreover. (b) Especially for large m. Crandall and Lions [104] propose to study a convergent sequence of regularizations which can be approximated on a finite stencil. where the notations from Chapter 2 have been used. ∞). b and c may be functions of Jρ (∇uσ ). (d) The existence of a nonnegative directional splitting distinguishes the filter class (Pc ) from morphological anisotropic equations such as mean curvature motion. Thus. we may expect to find stricter estimates than those given in the proof. π ] =: I−1 ∪ I1 . most of the stencil coefficients can be set to zero. In this case it has been proved that it is impossible to find a nonnegative directional splitting on a finite stencil [13]. (c) For a specified diffusion tensor function D it is possible to give a-priori estimates for the required stencil size: using the extremum principle it is not hard to show that |∇uσ (x. As a remedy. RELATION TO CONTINUOUS MODELS Remarks: 93 (a) We observe that the preceding existence proof is constructive. This condition limit can be used to fix a suitable stencil size. These estimates might be improved further by admitting more than 3 directions. 0] ∪ (0. even if we use only 3 directions. 2 2 2 2 . unless m is very small.

These bounds on the condition number attain their maximal value for h1 = h2 . SEMIDISCRETE DIFFUSION FILTERING I−1 and I1 belong to the grid angles β−1 = arctan − β1 = arctan h2 . 2h1 h2 which restricts the upper condition number for a nonnegative discretization with ψ ∈ I1 to 1 + sin β 1 + cos β κ1. = cot2 2 1 − cos β = 1 + sin β . 2 4 2 β η1 = . h1 =: β. . sin ψ) denotes the eigenvector to the larger eigenvalue λ1 of D. h1 . h2 h2 + h2 2 = |b| + b · 1 .30) we obtain as expressions for the directional diffusivities α−1 = |b| − b · h2 + h2 1 2 . (3.35) 1 − sin β 1 − cos β α0 = a − |b| · α1 α2 h1 .8284. 2h1 h2 h2 = c − |b| · . we get cot(ρ1 −β1 ) tan ρ1 = cot cot(β1 −η1 ) cot η1 π β π β − tan + 4 2 4 2 1 + cos β β = . With the notations from the proof of Theorem 6 we obtain π θ1 = . 2 Therefore. h2 h1 First we focus on the case ψ ∈ I1 where (cos ψ.1 = κ−1. In this case β = π gives 4 √ √ 1+ 1 2 2√ κ1.94 CHAPTER 3.28)–(3. 1 − sin β Thanks to the symmetry we obtain the same condition restriction for ψ ∈ I−1 .1 = = 3 + 2 2 ≈ 5. 2 θ1 + β1 π β ρ1 = = + .1 := min .36) 1 1− 2 2 By virtue of (3. (3.

j 2h2 1 ai−1. [294.j+1 +|bi+1.j−1 |+|bi.j +ci.j | 2h1 h2 |bi−1. . Recently Kocan described an interesting alternative to obtain upper bounds for the stencil size as a function of the condition number [238]. j+1)) of A(u). yj ).j−1 4h1 h2 + |bi. The other notations should be clear from the context as well. 120.j+1 4h1 h2 |bi+1. y) ∂y u + ∂y b(x.j−1 4h1 h2 + |bi.j |+|bi+1. the upper left stencil entry gives the element (p(i.j+1 +ci.j |+|bi.g.j | 2h1 h2 + |bi.j+1 4h1 h2 + |bi.j 2h2 2 − |bi.j | 2h1 h2 |bi+1. bi.j+1 |+bi+1. y) ∂x u + ∂x b(x. y) ∂xx u + 2b(x. e. Usually it is studied for the expression a(x.j 2h2 1 − |bi−1.j−1 +|bi+1. y) ∂x u + ∂y c(x.j | 2h1 h2 − ci.j | 2h1 h2 − |bi−1.j |−b2i.j−1 |+bi−1.j−1 |−bi+1.j 2h2 1 − |bi+1.j |−b2i. for instance.j+1 |−bi−1.j−1 4h1 h2 + |bi−1.j 4h1 h ci. p(i−1.j−1 |+bi−1.g.j +ai.j +2ai.j |+|bi. The problem of finding nonnegative difference approximations to elliptic expressions with mixed derivatives has a long history.j 2h2 2 − |bi. j).j−1 |−bi+1.3.j |+b2i. see e. y) ∂xy u + c(x. The approach presented here extends these results to ∂x a(x.j−1 |+|bi.j+1 2h2 2 ai+1.j 4h1 h − ai−1. j) is the index of some inner pixel (i.j−1 +2ci.j +ai.j |+|bi.j+1 |+2|bi.j−1 +ci.j+1 |+|bi.j 4h1 h ci.j |+b2i. j).j+1 |−bi−1. Thus.j denotes a finite difference approximation of b(Jρ (∇uσ )) at some grid point (xi .j 4h1 h All nonvanishing entries of the p-th row of A(u) are represented in this stencil.j +ai+1.j+1 4h1 h2 − |bi−1. RELATION TO CONTINUOUS MODELS 95 This induces in a natural way the following second-order discretization for div (D∇u): |bi−1. y) ∂yy u.j+1 |+bi+1. where p(i. 170]. y) ∂y u and establishes the relation between the condition number of a b and the nonbc negativity of the difference operator.4. His derivation is based on the diophantine problem of approximating irrationals by rational numbers.

96 CHAPTER 3. SEMIDISCRETE DIFFUSION FILTERING .

(D6) positive diagonal:       ∀ v ∈ IR . . N} by J. and denote the index set {1. We consider the following discrete filter class (Pd ):               (0)  u = f. IR ).. j∈J (D3) unit row sum: (D4) nonnegativity: qij (v) = 1 ∀ i ∈ J.. j ∈ J. Lyapunov sequences and convergence to a constant steady-state. qii (v) > 0 ∀ i ∈ J.       N   ∀ v ∈ IR . uniqueness.    (Pd ) .      (k+1) (k) (k)  u = Q(u ) u .           where Q = (qij ) has the following properties:       N N ×N  (D1) continuity in its argument: Q ∈ C(IR . We shall see that this class comprises α-semi-implicit discretizations of the semidiscrete filter class (Ps ) as well as certain variants of them which are based on an additive operator splitting.                N   ∀ v ∈ IR .Chapter 4 Discrete diffusion filtering This chapter presents a discrete class of diffusion processes for which one can establish similar properties as in the semidiscrete case concerning existence.. N ≥ 2. average grey level invariance.1 The general model As in Chapter 3 we regard a discrete image as a vector f ∈ IRN . ∀ k ∈ IN0 . continuous dependence of the solution on the initial image.   N   ∀ v ∈ IRN . 97 (D5) irreducibility for all v ∈ IRN .  Let f ∈ IRN . j ∈ J. qij (v) ≥ 0 ∀ i. maximum-minimum principle. Calculate a sequence (u(k) )k∈IN0 of processed versions of f by means of (D2) symmetry: qij (v) = qji (v) ∀ i. 4.

while the proof of the extremum principle requires (D3) and (D4).3) b := max fj . scale-space evolutions are evaluated exclusively at a finite number of scales. (b) The requirements (D1)–(D5) have a similar meaning as their semidiscrete counterparts (S1)–(S5). u(k) depends continuously on f .1) where a := min fj . for every finite k. for all i ∈ J and k ∈ IN0 . DISCRETE DIFFUSION FILTERING (a) Although the basic idea behind scale-spaces is to have a continuous scale parameter. (4. Moreover. 223]. 4. and the convergence to a constant steady-state utilizes (D2)–(D5). j∈J (4. Moreover. by means of (D1) we know that. let us now prove a maximum–minimum principle.2 Theoretical results It is obvious that for a fixed filter belonging to the class (Pd ) every initial image f ∈ IRN generates a unique sequence (u(k) )k∈IN0 . and average grey value invariance is based on (D2) and (D3). Proposition 3 (Extremum principle). (c) Nonnegative matrices Q = (qij ) ∈ IRN ×N satisfying j∈J qij = 1 for all i ∈ J are also called stochastic matrices. then Q is doubly stochastic.98 Remarks: CHAPTER 4. in practice. Indeed. the following inequalities hold: (i) ui (k+1) = j∈J qij (u(k) )uj (k) (D4) ≤ max u(k) m m∈J j∈J qij (u(k) ) = max u(k) . This indicates that our discrete diffusion processes are related to the theory of Markov chains [370. m m∈J (D3) .2) (4. j∈J Proof: The maximum–minimum principle follows directly from the fact that. Therefore. it is evident that fully discrete results are of importance since. (D1) immediately gives well-posedness results. strict Lyapunov sequences need (D5) and (D6) in addition to (D2)–(D4). Then. (k) a ≤ ui ≤ b ∀ i ∈ J. if Q is stochastic and i∈J qij = 1 for all j ∈ J. Let f ∈ IRN and let (u(k) )k∈IN0 be the sequence of filtered images according to (Pd ). ∀ k ∈ IN0 . The existence of Lyapunov sequences is a consequence of (D2)–(D4).

b. (4. 2 (k) which proves the proposition. m m∈J (D3) = j∈J qij (u(k) )uj (k) (D4) ≥ min u(k) m m∈J j∈J 2 4. Then the following properties are fulfilled: (a) (Lyapunov sequences) For all convex r ∈ C[a. As one might expect. The average grey level 1 µ := fj N j∈J is not affected by the discrete diffusion filter: 1 N uj = µ j∈J (k) (4. However. the class (Pd ) allows an interpretation as a transformation which is smoothing in terms of Lyapunov sequences.3). µ)⊤ ∈ IRN . These functions ensure that u(k) converges to a constant image as k → ∞. we need less regularity than in the semidiscrete case: The convex function r. needs only to be continuous. let a. Assume that (u(k) )k∈IN0 satisfies the requirements of (Pd ). ui i∈J (k+1) = i∈J j∈J qij (u(k) )uj (k) = j∈J i∈J qij (u(k) ) uj (k) = j∈J uj . and µ be defined as in (4. for all k ∈ IN0 . . This so-called redistribution property [164] ensures that.3.3 Scale-space properties All statements from Chapter 3 with respect to invariances are valid in the discrete framework as well. µ.2).4. SCALE-SPACE PROPERTIES (ii) ui (k+1) 99 qij (u(k) ) = min u(k) .4). Below we focus on proving average grey level invariance. but no more differentiable. Proposition 4 (Conservation of average grey value).. b] the sequence V (k) := Φ(u(k) ) := i∈J r(ui ).5) Proof: By virtue of (D2) and (D3) we have i∈J qij (u(k) ) = 1 for all j ∈ J and k ∈ IN0 . (k) k ∈ IN0 is a Lyapunov sequence: . and (4. which generates the Lyapunov sequences. and let c := (µ. respectively. Theorem 7 (Lyapunov sequences and behaviour for k → ∞). (4...4) ∀ k ∈ IN0 .

7) N qij (u(k) ) r(uj ) − r(ui ) (k)  aij (u(k) ) r(uj ) i=1 j=1 N N (D3) i=1 j=1 aij (u(k) ) r(uj ) − r(ui ) (k) (k) . the preceding definition. j ∈ J we define aij (u(k) ) := qij (u(k) ) − 1 qij (u(k) ) (i = j) (i = j). and the prerequisites (D2) and (D3) we obtain N V (k+1) − V (k) = i=1 conv.6) (k) r(uj ) = Φ(u(k) ). DISCRETE DIFFUSION FILTERING Φ(u(k) ) ≥ Φ(c) ∀ k ∈ IN0 V (k+1) − V (k) ≤ 0 ∀ k ∈ IN0 Moreover. if r is strictly convex.   r    N j=1 N j=1 N i=1 N (k) (k) qij (u(k) ) uj  − r(ui ) (k) (k)   ≤ = = (4. then V (k) = Φ(u(k) ) is a strict Lyapunov sequence: (iii) (iv) Φ(u(k) ) = Φ(c) V (k+1) − V (k) = 0 ⇐⇒ u(k) = c u(k) = c ⇐⇒ (b) (Convergence) lim u(k) = c. (ii) For i. (4.7) Using the convexity of r.100 (i) (ii) CHAPTER 4. k→∞ Proof: (a) (i) Average grey level invariance and the convexity of r give N Φ(c) = i=1 N ≤ = i=1 N j=1   r  1 N 1 (k)  uj j=1 N N (k) j=1 N   r(uj ) (4.

.. (iv) In order to verify the first implication. m := lp0 +1 . by the irreducibility of Q(u(k) ). = uN .3. SCALE-SPACE PROPERTIES = + (D2) N N −i i=1 m=1 N N −i i=1 m=1 101 ai+m. we find l0 ..m qnj (u(k) ) r(uj ) + qnn (u(k) ) r(u(k)) + qnm (u(k) ) r(u(k)) n m N = j=1 qnj (u(k) ) r(uj )..m qnj (u(k) ) uj + qnn (u(k) ) u(k) + qnm (u(k) ) u(k)  n m (k) < j=1 j=n. assume that u(k) is not constant: ui0 := min ui i∈J (k) (k) < max uj j∈J (k) =: uj0 . .. Theorem 5): Equality in the estimate (4. r − 1} such that n := lp0 .. there exists some p0 ∈ {0. Hence. Moreover.8) (k) (k) (k) (k) = 0... r − 1.4. lr = j0 and qlp lp+1 = 0 for p = 0. . (k) Then.. (k) If we combine this with the results in (4.8).i+m (u(k) ) r(ui+m ) − r(ui ) (4. we obtain V (k+1) − V (k) N = i=1 i=n   r  N N j=1 + r  (k) qij (u(k) ) uj   − j=1 (k) qnj (u(k) ) uj   (k) r(ui )  − r(u(k)) n . . Together with the strict convexity of r these properties lead to r =  N (k) qnj (u(k) ) uj  N (k) j=1    r N   j=1 j=n. m n and by (D6) we have qnn (u(k) ) > 0... the nonnegativity of Q(u(k) ) gives qnm (u(k) ) > 0. To this end. qnm (u(k) ) = 0.i (u(k) ) r(ui ) − r(ui+m ) ai.6) holds due to the strict convexity of r if and only if u(k) = c. let us start with a proof that (k) (k) V (k+1) = V (k) implies u1 = . (iii) This part of the proof can be shown in exactly the same manner as in the semidiscrete case (Chapter 3. lr ∈ J with l0 = i0 . and u(k) = u(k) .

(k) (k) for all n ∈ IN. Conversely. j=1 uj An interpretation of these results in terms of decreasing energy.1 Relation to semidiscrete models Semi-implicit schemes Let us now investigate in which sense our discrete filter class covers in a natural way time discretizations of semidiscrete filters. Then. See Chapter 3. 4.4 4.. by virtue of the grey value invariance. decreasing central moments and increasing entropy is evident. let u(k) = c. we regard u(k) as an . By means of prerequisite (D3) we obtain N V (k+1) − V (k) = i=1 r  N j=1 qij (u(k) )µ −  N r(µ) = 0. Let (u(k) )k∈IN0 be a diffusion sequence according to (Pd ). i=1 (c) In order to prove convergence to a constant steady-state. 2 In analogy to the semidiscrete case the preceding theorem comprises many Lyapunov functions which demonstrate the information-reducing qualities of our filter class.. DISCRETE DIFFUSION FILTERING N < i=1 (4. if a > 0. 1 N N j=1 (k) M2n [u(k) ] := H[u(k) ] := N (uj − µ)2n ln(uj ). and let a and µ be defined as in (4. Theorem 5 for more details.4). Then the following functions are decreasing in k: (a) (b) (c) u(k) p for all p ≥ 1. Corollary 3 (Special Lyapunov sequences). we can argue exactly in the same way as in the semidiscrete case if we replace Lyapunov functions by Lyapunov sequences and integrals by sums. To this end.4. Choosing the convex functions r(s) := |s|p . we immediately obtain the following corollary. = uN . r(s) := (s − µ)2n and r(s) := s ln s.2) and (4. qij (u(k) ) r(uj ) − r(ui ) (k) (k) (k) (k)  This establishes that V (k+1) = V (k) implies u1 = . we conclude that u(k) = c.102 CHAPTER 4.8)   N j=1 = 0.

where τ denotes the time step size. while the explicit evaluation of the nonlinear terms avoids the necessity to solve nonlinear systems of equations. We consider a finite difference scheme with two time levels where the operator A – which depends nonlinearly on u – is evaluated in an explicit way.10) for α ∈ (0. . for which we have established scale-space results. The theorem below states that this class of schemes is covered by the discrete framework. and let A = (aij ) : IRN → IRN ×N satisfy the requirements (S1)–(S5) of section 3. 1). the argument u(k) is suppressed frequently since the considerations below are valid for all u(k) ∈ IRN . C(u(k) ) := (cij (u(k) )) := I + (1−α)τ A(u(k) ). If α = 0. Then B is strictly diagonally dominant. RELATION TO SEMIDISCRETE MODELS 103 approximation of the solution u of (Ps ) at time t = kτ . since bii = 1 − ατ aii = 1 + ατ (S3) aij > ατ j∈J j=i j∈J j=i aij = (S4) j∈J j=i |bij | ∀ i ∈ J. Theorem 8 (Scale-space interpretation for α-semi-implicit schemes). Then the α-semi-implicit scheme u(k+1) − u(k) = A(u(k) ) αu(k+1) + (1−α)u(k) τ fulfils the prerequisites (D1)–(D6) for discrete diffusion models provided that τ ≤ 1 (1−α) max |aii (u(k) )| i∈J (4. Such schemes are called α-semi-implicit. where I ∈ IRN denotes the unit matrix. Proof: Let B(u(k) ) := (bij (u(k) )) := I − ατ A(u(k) ). 1].11) and the semi-implicit case (α = 1) satisfies (D1)–(D6) unconditionally. while the linear remainder is discretized in an α-implicit manner.4. Let α ∈ [0.9) can be written as B(u(k) ) u(k+1) = C(u(k) ) u(k) we first have to show that B(u(k) ) is invertible for all u(k) ∈ IRN . max |aii (u(k) )| i∈J (4.1. then B = I and hence invertible. They reveal the advantage that the linear implicit part ensures good stability properties. Henceforth.9) (4. Since (4. In the explicit case (α = 0) the properties (D1)–(D6) hold for τ < 1 . Now assume that α > 0. τ > 0.4.

13) (4.14) (4. Then (4. .15) . p. Thanks to the fact that B is irreducibly diagonally dominant. however. we know from [407. IRN ×N ). and by the structure of the off-diagonal elements of B we observe that the irreducibility of A implies the irreducibility of B. By means of (S3) we obtain bij = 1 = j∈J j∈J cij ∀ i ∈ J. nonnegativity of C is not automatically guaranteed: Using (S3)–(S5) we obtain aii = − Hence. and the invertibility of B gives v = B −1 v = Hv.12) is equivalent to Bv = v = Cv. Therefore. Let us now verify (D3). from Qv = HCv we conclude that j∈J (4. we first check the nonnegativity of C. Q := (qij ) := B −1 C exists and by (S1) it follows that Q ∈ C(IRN . In order to show that (D4) is fulfilled. For 0 ≤ α < 1. The diagonal entries yield cii = 1 + (1−α)τ aii . The requirement (D2) is not hard to satisfy: Since B −1 and C are symmetric and reveal the same set of eigenvectors – namely those of A – it follows that Q = B −1 C is symmetric as well. Thus. For i = j we have cij = (1−α)τ aij ≥ 0. j ∈ J. bij ≤ 0 for all i = j. This proves (D1). (4.13) (4.104 CHAPTER 4.. C(u(k) ) is nonnegative if τ ≤ 1 =: τα (u(k) ). (4. 85] that B −1 =: H =: (hij ) exists and hij > 0 for all i.(S5) < 0 ∀ i ∈ J... DISCRETE DIFFUSION FILTERING This also shows that bii > 0 for all i ∈ J. and bii > 0 for all i ∈ J.12) Let v := (1. This proves (D3). If α = 1 we have cii = 1 for all i ∈ J. (k) )| (1−α) max |aii (u i∈J (S3) (S4) aij j∈J j=i (S4).14) = Hv = v qij = 1 for all i ∈ J. 1)⊤ ∈ IRN .

IR Kf := max |aii (v)| i ∈ J. 2 Remarks: (a) We have seen that the discrete filter class (Pd ) – although at first glance looking like a pure explicit discretization – covers the α-semi-implicit case as well. Thus. and (4. Thus. and (4. Using this information.15) shows that Kf > 0. j ∈ J. v ∞ ≤ f ∞ exists. Equation (4. then C = I. j ∈ J with i = j we know that aij (u(k) ) > 0 implies cij (u(k) ) > 0. Q is irreducible. for α = 0. Now for τ < 1 max |aii (u(k) )| i∈J it follows that cii (u(k) ) > 0 for all i ∈ J and. RELATION TO SEMIDISCRETE MODELS 105 Since H is nonnegative.4. For i. By N N ×N ) it follows that A ∈ C(IR . Next let us consider the case 0 < α < 1 and τ ≤ τα (u(k) ).10) and (4.11) can be satisfied by means of an a-priori estimate. j ∈ J. In all the abovementioned cases the time step size restrictions for ensuring irreducibility imply that all diagonal elements of Q(u(k) ) are positive. If α = 1. the irreducibility of A(u(k) ) carries over to Q(u(k) ). we have Q = C. Explicit two-level schemes are comprised by the choice α = 0. the positivity of H. Finally. which establishes the irreducibility of Q. and by the positivity of H we have qij > 0 for all i. (b) The conditions (4. Then we know that C is nonnegative. This means that u(k) belongs to the compact set {v ∈ IRN v ∞ ≤ f ∞ } for all k ∈ IN0 . This establishes (D6). we know that the nonnegativity of C implies the nonnegativity of Q = HC.11) shows that they reveal the most prohibitive time step size restrictions. the symmetry of C.4.12) we obtain qij = k∈J hik ckj ≥ min hik · k∈J >0 ckj > 0 k∈J =1 ∀ i. v ∈ IRN . Since the semi-implicit scheme fulfils (D1)–(D6) we know by Theorem 3 that the solution obeys an extremum principle. Now we want to prove (D5). thus. choosing τ ≤ 1 (1−α) Kf .

the matrix reveals a much larger bandwidth. DISCRETE DIFFUSION FILTERING ensures that (4. which can become prohibitive for large images. and their convergence can be guaranteed for the special structure of A.2.11) holds. diagonally dominant. and they inherit the scale-space properties from the semidiscrete setting regardless of the step size. However. i−2p2 −2p] to [i. a large linear system of equations has to be solved.106 CHAPTER 4. One should not expect. that in the i-th row these entries can be found within the positions [i. i+2p2 +2p]. Classical methods such as Gauß–Seidel or SOR [447] are easy to code. Compared to explicit schemes. Its system matrix is symmetric. (e) By the explicit discretization of the nonlinear operator A it follows that all schemes in the preceding theorem are of first order in time. This should not give rise to concern. Unfortunately. if one insists in second-order schemes. however. and positive definite. since in image processing one is in general more interested in maintaining qualitative properties such as maximum principles or invariances rather than having an accurate approximation of the continuous equation. Faster iterative methods such as preconditioned conjugate gradient algorithms [348] need significantly more storage. 179] are one possibility to circumvent these difficulties. (d) For α = 1 we obtain semi-implicit schemes which do not suffer from time step size restrictions. In general.4. another possibility will be studied in Section 4. they do not need additional storage. since this increases the condition number of the system matrix. if it results from a finite difference discretization on a (2p+1)×(2p+1)-stencil it contains at most 4p2 +4p+1 nonvanishing entries per row. Applying standard direct algorithms such as Gaussian elimination would destroy the zeros within the band and would lead to an immense storage and computation effort. this advantage usually overcompensates for the additional effort of resolving a linear system. they converge rather slowly. Iterative algorithms appear to be better suited.10) is always satisfied. and τ < guarantees that (4. A typical problem of iterative methods is that their convergence slows down for larger τ . Usually. Multigrid methods [59. 1 Kf (c) If α > 0. In spite of the fact that the nonlinearity is discretized in an explicit way they are absolutely stable in the maximum norm. it is also sparse: For instance. Modifications in order to reduce these problems [122] are quite difficult to implement. one may for .

2 2 τ This scheme satisfies the properties (D1)–(D6) for τ ≤ 2/Kf . The following theorem clarifies the conditions under which AOS schemes create discrete scale-spaces. (4.4. τ /2 u(k+1) − u(k) = A(u(k+1/2) ) 1 u(k+1) + 1 u(k) . Since this can be numerically expensive.4..17) its additive operator splitting (AOS) variant [424] u(k+1) = 1 m m l=1 I − αmτ Al (u(k) ) −1 I + (1−α)mτ Al (u(k) ) u(k) . (f) The assumptions (S1)–(S5) are sufficient conditions for the α-semi-implicit scheme to fulfil (D1)–(D6).. Nonnegativity of Q(u(k) ) may also be achieved using spatial discretizations where A(u(k) ) has negative off-diagonal elements (see [55] for examples)..m can be solved more efficiently. Suppose we know a splitting m A(u(k) ) = l=1 Al (u(k) ).18) By means of a Taylor expansion one can verify that.16) such that the m linear systems with system matrices (I −mατ Al (u(k) )). they have the same approximation order in space and time. (4. the preceding α-semi-implicit schemes require to solve a linear system with the system matrix (I − ατ A(u(k) )). but they are not necessary..4. from a numerical viewpoint. l = 1. Hence. . RELATION TO SEMIDISCRETE MODELS 107 instance use the predictor–corrector approach by Douglas and Jones [121]: u(k+1/2) − u(k) = A(u(k) ) u(k+1/2) . it would be nice to have an efficient alternative.2 AOS schemes We have seen that. for α > 0. Then it is advantageous to study instead of the αsemi-implicit scheme m u (k+1) = I − ατ Al (u ) l=1 (k) −1 m I + (1−α)τ l=1 Al (u(k) ) u(k) (4. although both schemes are not identical. they are both consistent approximations to the semidiscrete ODE system from (Ps ). 4.

it follows that Q(u) := 1 m m l=1 Bl−1 (u) Cl (u) is also continuous in u. Moreover..108 CHAPTER 4. (S4) . Then the following holds: For α ∈ (0. Under these circumstances it follows from [284. For i = j we have cijl = (1−α)mτ aijl ≥ 0. (1−α) m max |aiil (u(k) )| i.18) fulfils the prerequisites (D1)–(D6) of discrete diffusion scale-spaces provided that τ < 1 .1.. The symmetry property (D2) of Q results directly from the fact that Bl−1 and Cl are symmetric and share their eigenvectors with those of Al . 192] that Hl := Bl−1 is nonnegative in all components. p. Since Al (u) is continuous in u by virtue of (S1). To verify (D4). In the same way as in the proof of Theorem 8 one shows that Bl−1 Cl has only unit row sums for all l. and bijl ≤ 0 for i = j. τ > 0. 1]. the row sums of Q are 1 as well. Thus. the AOS scheme (4. Let α ∈ (0. assume that A(u) = m Al (u) l=1 is irreducible for all u ∈ IRN .. Thus. Bl is invertible because of its strict diagonal dominance: biil = 1 + αmτ j∈J j=i Cl (u(k) ) := (cijl (u(k) ))ij := I + (1−α)mτ Al (u(k) ). we utilize that Bl is strictly diagonally dominant.. the properties (D1)–(D6) are unconditionally satisfied.l (4. (S3) aijl > αmτ j∈J j=i aijl = (S4) j∈J j=i |bijl | ∀ i ∈ J. 1). and that for each Al there exists a permutation matrix Pl ∈ IRN ×N such that Pl Al PlT is block diagonal and irreducible within each block. and (D3) is satisfied. and let Al = (aijl )ij : IRN → IRN ×N . Let Bl (u(k) ) := (bijl (u(k) ))ij := I − αmτ Al (u(k) ).19) In the semi-implicit case (α = 1).m satisfy the requirements (S1)–(S4) of section 3. biil > 0 for all i. DISCRETE DIFFUSION FILTERING Theorem 9 (Scale-space interpretation for AOS schemes). l = 1. Proof: The reasoning is similar to the proof of Theorem 8. a sufficient condition for proving (D4) is to ensure that Cl is nonnegative for all l. This proves (D1).

2 Remarks: (a) In analogy to the unsplit α-semi-implicit schemes. −1 1 = m I − 1 mτ Al (u(k+1/2) ) 2 I + 1 mτ Al (u(k+1/2) ) u(k) . because no time step size restriction occurs. we show now that ai0 j0 l0 = 0 implies hi0 j0 l0 > 0. we know that aiil ≤ 0. p.l guarantees that ciil > 0 ∀ i ∈ J.15) we have aii < 0 for all i ∈ J. 109 If α = 1 we have cii = 1 for all i ∈ J. Suppose that ai0 j0 = 0 for some i0 . Thus. j0 ∈ J..15) it follows that for every i there exists an l with aiil < 0.  m (l.4. Q must have a positive diagonal. ai0 j0 l0 = 0 implies hi0 j0 l0 > 0. ∀ l = 1. (4. Each block is irreducible and strictly diagonally dominant with a positive diagonal and nonpositive off-diagonals. m} such that ai0 j0 l0 = 0.. Therefore. l = 1. and (D5) is proved. the irreducibility of A carries over to Q. however..j0 ) 0 ≥0 ≥0 >0 >0 (k)   Recapitulating.. Together with (4. For 0 < α < 1. Again. (4. Then there exists an l0 ∈ {1. for all i. nonnegativity of C is not automatically guaranteed: Since Al satisfies (S3) and (S4).20) Next we prove (D5). m.. This can be seen as follows: There exist permutation matrices Pl .. Thus.4. it is also possible to construct a predictor–corrector scheme of Douglas–Jones type [121] within the AOS framework: u(k+1/2) = u(k+1) 1 m m l=1 m l=1 I − 1 mτ Al (u(k) ) 2 −1 u(k) . RELATION TO SEMIDISCRETE MODELS The diagonal entries yield ciil = 1 + (1−α)mτ aiil . ai0 j0 = 0 =⇒ qi0 j0 > 0. 2 .. .n)=(l0 ..21) Thus. .20) this yields qi0 j0 = 1   hi nl cnj0 l + hi0 j0 l0 cj0 j0 l0  > 0. Moreover. . for τ < τα (u ).21) also proves (D6): By virtue of (4. the case α = 1 is especially interesting. the irreducibility of Q. requiring 1 τ < =: τα (u(k) ) (1−α) m max |aiil (u(k) )| i. As a consequence. Moreover. a theorem by Varga [407. m such that Pl Bl PlT is block diagonal. (4.. by (4. this means that. Denoting Bl−1 by Hl = (hijl )ij . 85] ensures that the inverse of each block contains only positive elements.

m do not commute. (b) The fact that AOS schemes use an additive splitting ensures that all coordinate axes are treated in exactly the same manner. In practice.2 we have seen that this filter is based on the PDE ∂t u = div (g(|∇uσ |2 ) ∇u). m}.. it is possible to distribute their computation to different processors of a parallel machine. v ∞ ≤ f ∞ . the AOS–Douglas–Jones scheme is only first order accurate in time.. In e Section 1.m can be calculated independently from each other.110 CHAPTER 4.. this means that these schemes produce different results if the image is rotated by 90 degrees. where Kf is determined by the a-priori estimate Kf := m max |aiil (v)| i ∈ J. (c) The result u(k+1) of an AOS scheme can be regarded as the average of m filters of type vl (k+1) := I − αmτ Al (u(k) ) (k+1) −1 I + (1−α)mτ Al (u(k) ) u(k) (l = 1.. 277. 430] as efficient discretizations of the isotropic nonlinear diffusion filter of Catt´ et al. Hence. They are multiplicative splittings.. Moreover...... (d) AOS schemes with α = 1 have been presented in [424. l = 1. This violates requirement (D2) for discrete scale-spaces.... [81]. m). v ∈ IRN . DISCRETE DIFFUSION FILTERING It satisfies (D1)–(D6) for τ < 2/Kf . Since vl . the corresponding linear systems can be .. This separation is very efficient: There exist permutation matrices Pl (pixel orderings) such that Pl Al PlT is block diagonal and each block is diagonally dominant and tridiagonal. a natural operator splitting A = m Al results from a decoml=1 position of the divergence expression into one-dimensional terms of type ∂xl (g(|∇uσ |2 ) ∂xl u) (l = 1.3.. most multiplicative splittings lead to a nonsymmetric matrix Q(u(k) ).. . l ∈ {1. 354. the result of multiplicative splittings will depend on the order of the operators. However. m). This is in contrast to the various conventional splitting techniques from the literature [120. Since in the general nonlinear case the split operators Al .. . 442]. . l = 1. A typical representative is m u (k+1) = l=1 I − τ Al (u(k) ) −1 u(k) . In this case. 286.

The denoising of a medical 3-D ultrasound data set with 138 × 208 × 138 voxels on an SGI Power Challenge XL with eight 195 MHz R10000 processors was possible in less than 1 minute. .2.4.4. The resulting forward substitution and backward elimination can be regarded as a recursive filter. RELATION TO SEMIDISCRETE MODELS 111 solved in linear effort by means of a simple Gaussian algorithm. (e) The idea to base AOS schemes on decompositions into one-dimensional operators can also be generalized to anisotropic diffusion filters: Consider for instance the discretization on a (3 × 3)-stencil at the end of Section 3. then a splitting of such a 2-D filter into 4 one-dimensional diffusion processes acting along the 4 stencil directions satisfies all prerequisites of Theorem 9. A parallel implementation assigning these tridiagonal subsystems to different processors is described in [431].4. If it fulfils (S1)–(S5).

DISCRETE DIFFUSION FILTERING .112 CHAPTER 4.

and dilation with a quadratic structuring function is performed in a noniterative way using van den Boomgaard’s algorithm from [51]. 1.4) with ∆t := 0. and MCM.01. respectively. All calculations for diffusion filtering are performed using semi-implicit FD schemes with time steps ∆t ∈ [2. we shall pursue two different objectives: • smoothing with simultaneous edge-enhancement. For MCM and AMSS this is achieved by means of explicit FD schemes (cf.Chapter 5 Examples and applications The scale-space theory from Chapters 2–4 also covers methods such as linear or nonlinear isotropic diffusion filtering.5.3 seconds. 5]. for which many interesting applications have already been mentioned in Chapter 1. the goal of the present chapter is to show that a generalization to anisotropic models with diffusion tensors depending on the structure tensor offers novel properties and application fields. Typical dilations with a quadratic structuring function take less than 0. Therefore. we focus mainly on these anisotropic techniques and juxtapose the results to other methods. 113 . • smoothing with enhancement of coherent flow-like textures. AMSS or dilation with a disc require approximately 0. Dilation with a flat structuring element is approximated by an Osher-Sethian scheme of type (1.06 seconds per iteration. On an HP 9000/889 workstation it takes less than 0.88) with ∆t := 0. In order to compare anisotropic diffusion to other methods.3 CPU seconds to calculate one nonlinear diffusion step for a 256 × 256 image. morphological scale-spaces and modifications of them have been discretized as well.1 and ∆t := 0.6. Thus. In order to demonstrate the flexibility of anisotropic diffusion filtering.

1) (5. The constant Cm is calculated in such a way that the flux Φ(s) = sg(s) is increasing for s ∈ [0. Since in this section we are only interested in edge-enhancing diffusion we may set the integration scale ρ of the structure tensor equal to 0.2. Applications which require nonvanishing integration scales shall be studied in section 5. This behaviour may be accomplished by the following choice (m ∈ IN. If one wants to smooth preferably within each region and aims to inhibit diffusion across edges.3. λ2 := 1 with g(s) :=   1 (5. (5. see 1.3 and [415].2) This exponentially decreasing function is chosen in order to fulfil the smoothness requirement stated in (Pc ). Cm > 0. v2 the corresponding orthonormal eigenvectors. Since the diffusion tensor should reflect the local image structure it ought to be chosen in such a way that it reveals the same set of eigenvectors v1 .1. the preceding filter strategy can be regarded as an anisotropic regularization of the Perona–Malik model.114 CHAPTER 5.1 illustrates that anisotropic diffusion filtering is still capable of possessing the contrast-enhancing properties of the Perona–Malik filter (provided the regularization parameter σ is not too large). ∞) and µ1 = |∇uσ |2 . µ2 with µ1 ≥ µ2 be the eigenvalues of the structure tensor Jρ .2.1 Edge-enhancing diffusion Filter design In accordance with the notations in 2. we know that the uniform positive definiteness of D is automatically satisfied by this filter. cf. The choice m := 4 (which implies C4 = 3. λ] and decreasing for s ∈ (λ. let µ1 . Thus. 2.1 5. and v1 .3. λ > 0): λ1 (µ1 ) := g(µ1). EXAMPLES AND APPLICATIONS 5. Since ∇uσ remains bounded on Ω × [0.3) 5.  1 − exp −Cm (s/λ)m (s ≤ 0) (s > 0).31488) gives visually good results and is used exclusively in the examples below. ∞). It depicts the temporal evolution of a .1. v2 as Jρ . then one can reduce the diffusivity λ1 perpendicular to edges the more the higher the contrast µ1 is. The choice of the corresponding eigenvalues λ1 . λ2 depends on the desired goal of the filter.2 Applications Figure 5.

5.1. EDGE-ENHANCING DIFFUSION

115

Figure 5.1: Anisotropic diffusion filtering of a Gaussian-type function, Ω = (0, 256)2 , λ = 3.6, σ = 2. From top left to bottom right: t = 0, 125, 625, 3125, 15625, 78125.

116

CHAPTER 5. EXAMPLES AND APPLICATIONS

Gaussian-like function and its isolines.1 It can be observed that two regions with almost constant grey value evolve which are separated by a fairly steep edge. Edge enhancement is caused by the fact that, due to the rapidly decreasing diffusivity, smoothing within each region is strongly preferred to diffusion between the two adjacent regions. The edge location remains stable over a very long time interval. This indicates that, in practice, the determination of a suitable stopping time is not a critical problem. After the process of contrast enhancement is concluded, the steepness of edges decreases very slowly until the gradient reaches a value where no backward diffusion is possible anymore. Then the image converges quickly towards a constant image. Let us now compare the denoising properties of different diffusion filters. Figure 5.2(a) consists of a triangle and a rectangle with 70 % of all pixels being completely degraded by noise. This image is taken from the software package MegaWave. Test images of this type have been used to study the behaviour of filters such as [13, 15, 16, 99, 102]. In Fig. 5.2(b) we observe that linear diffusion filtering is capable of removing all noise, but we have to pay a price: the image becomes completely blurred. Besides the fact that edges get smoothed so that they are harder to identify, the correspondence problem appears: edges become dislocated. Thus, once they are identified at a coarse scale, they have to be traced back in order to find their true location, a theoretically and practically rather difficult problem. Fig. 5.2(c) shows the effect when applying the isotropic nonlinear diffusion equation [81] ∂t u = div (g(|∇uσ |2 )∇u) (5.4)

with g as in (5.3). Since edges are hardly affected by this process, nonlinear isotropic diffusion does not lead to correspondence problems which are characteristic for linear filtering. On the other hand, the drastically reduced diffusivity at edges is also responsible for the drawback that noise at edges is preserved. Figure 5.2(d) demonstrates that nonlinear anisotropic filtering shares the advantages of both methods. It combines the good noise eliminating properties of linear diffusion with the stable edge structure of nonlinear isotropic filtering. Due to the permitted smoothing along edges, however, corners get more rounded than in the nonlinear isotropic case. The scale-space behaviour of different PDE-based methods is juxtaposed in Figures 5.3–5.6, where an MRI slice of a human head is processed [414, 423].
Except for Figs. 5.1, 5.3–5.6, where contrast enhancement is to be demonstrated, all images in the present work are depicted in such a way that the lowest value is black and the highest one appears white. They reveal a range within the interval [0, 255] and all pixels have unit length in both directions.
1

5.1. EDGE-ENHANCING DIFFUSION

117

Figure 5.2: Restoration properties of diffusion filters. (a) Top Left: Test image, Ω = (0, 128)2 . (b) Top Right: Linear diffusion, t = 80. (c) Bottom Left: Nonlinear isotropic diffusion, λ = 3.5, σ = 3, t = 80. (d) Bottom Right: Nonlinear anisotropic diffusion, λ = 3.5, σ = 3, t = 80.

Again we observe that linear diffusion (Fig. 5.3(a)) does not only blur all structures in an equal amount but also dislocates them more and more with increasing scale. A first step to reduce these problems is to adapt the diffusivity to the gradient of the initial image f [147]. Fig. 5.3(b) shows the evolution under

∂t u = div (g(|∇f |2) ∇u),

(5.5)

3) is applied. the temporal evolution of these models generates a .2(d). At the chin we observe that this equation is indeed capable of enhancing edges. (5. 5. Fig.4).7) Figure 5. Thus. becomes smaller. also small structures exist over a long range of scales if they differ from their vicinity by a sufficiently large contrast. On the other hand. The latter problem can be avoided using a diffusivity which decreases faster than (5. All structures are extremely well-localized and the results are segmentation-like. but this also leads to stronger blurring of large structures. As in Figure 5. (5. Finally the image turns into a silhouette of the head. The tendency to produce piecewise almost constant regions indicates that diffusion scale-spaces with nonmonotone flux are ideal preprocessing tools for segmentation.4(b)). One can try to make this filter faster and more insensitive to small-size structures by increasing the regularizing Gaussian kernel size σ (cf. This leads to the nonlinear diffusion equation [326] ∂t u = div (g(|∇u|2) ∇u). The absolute contrast at edges. A positive consequence of this slight shrinking effect is the fact that small or elongated and thin structures are better eliminated than in the isotropic case. Also blurring at edges is reduced very much. 5. 1. this causes a stronger rounding of structures. EXAMPLES AND APPLICATIONS where a diffusivity of type [88] g(|∇f |2) := 1 1 + |∇f |2 /λ2 (λ > 0). which can be seen at the nose. we recognize that most of the depicted “segments” coincide with semantically correct objects that one would expect at these scales.4(a) where the regularized isotropic nonlinear diffusion filter (5. for large t the filtered image reveals some artifacts which reflect the differential structure of the initial image. A natural idea to reduce the artifacts of inhomogeneous linear diffusion filtering would be to introduce a feedback in the process by adapting the diffusivity g to the gradient of the actual image u(x. and it is no longer possible to enhance the contour of the entire head. Compared with homogeneous linear diffusion. Unlike diffusion–reaction models aiming to yield one segmentation-like result for t → ∞ (cf.6) and leads to a nonmonotone flux function.118 CHAPTER 5.4(c)) permits diffusion along edges and inhibits smoothing across them. before it converges to a constant image.6) is used. edges remain better localized and their blurring is reduced. Anisotropic nonlinear diffusion (Fig. This is illustrated in Figure 5. On the other hand.4) with the diffusivity (5.3(c) shows how such a nonlinear feedback is useful to increase the edge localization in a significant way: Structures remain well-localized as long as they can be recognized. t) instead of the original image f (x). however.

In this sense. This is not true for the morphological filters and their modifications which are depicted in Fig.3 and 1. and maxima keep their location in scale-space until they disappear [206. Besides these specific features of nonlinear diffusion scale-spaces it should be mentioned that. 5. The traditional opinion that the evolution parameter t of scale-spaces should be related to the spatial scale reflects the assumption that a scale-space analysis should be uncommitted. Suitable values for them should result in a natural way from the specific problem. which gives a hierarchy of structures and allows to extract the relevant information from a certain scale.5 and 5. Nonlinear diffusion filtering renounces this requirement by allowing to incorporate a-priori information (e. The contrast-enhancing quality distinguishes nonlinear diffusion filters from most other scale-spaces.5. and by ∂t u = |∇u|2 (5. The basic idea of scale-spaces.5. with respect to the specified task. Figure 5. than a descriptor of spatial scale. respectively. and that they usually do not preserve the average grey level. for the disc. Therefore. due to the homogeneous Neumann boundary condition and the divergence form. is maintained: to provide a family of subsequently simplified versions of the original image.g.6. From Section 1. 207].5. The fact that the maximum with the largest grey value will dominate at the end shows that these processes can be sensitive to noise (maxima might be caused by noise). the time t is rather a parameter of importance. it is generally not possible to obtain similar segmentation-like results by just rescaling the grey values from a scale-space which is only contrast-reducing. about the contrast of semantically important structures) into the evolution process. It is not very difficult to guess the shape of the structuring function from the scale-space evolution. (5.1. In both cases the number of local maxima is decreasing.9) for the quadratic structuring function.5(a) and (b) show the result under continuous-scale dilation with a flat disc-shaped structuring element and a quadratic structuring function. both linear and nonlinear diffusion filters preserve the average grey level of the image. EDGE-ENHANCING DIFFUSION 119 complete hierarchical family of segmentation-like images.6 we know that their evolution equations are given by ∂t u = |∇u|. It should be noted that contrast enhancement is a local phenomenon which cannot be replaced by simple global rescalings of the grey value range. The contrast and noise parameters λ and σ give the user the liberty to adapt nonlinear diffusion scale-spaces to the desired purpose in order to reward interesting features with a longer lifetime. however.8) .

(c) Right Column: Nonlinear isotropic diffusion with the Charbonnier diffusivity (λ = 3). top to bottom: t = 0. 150.120 CHAPTER 5. t = 0.5. 50. EXAMPLES AND APPLICATIONS Figure 5. (a) Left Column: Linear diffusion. 70. 200. 236)2. 600. 70. 200. (b) Middle Column: Inhomogeneous linear diffusion (λ = 8).3: Evolution of an MRI slice under different PDEs. 400. Top: Original image. . 12. Ω = (0. t = 0.

σ = 1). (a) Left Column: Isotropic nonlinear diffusion (λ = 3. 25000. 3000. Ω = (0.4: Evolution of an MRI slice under different PDEs. (c) Right Column: Edgeenhancing anisotropic diffusion (λ = 3. t = 0.5. 40. t = 0. 7000000. 236)2. 875. . 400. EDGE-ENHANCING DIFFUSION 121 Figure 5.1. σ = 4). 250. t = 0. (b) Middle Column: Isotropic nonlinear diffusion (λ = 3. 1500. σ = 1). Top: Original image. 500000.

5: Evolution of an MRI slice under different PDEs. Ω = (0.25. (c) Right Column: Mean curvature motion.122 CHAPTER 5. Top: Original image. 0. t = 0. . 236)2. 4. 10. 4. EXAMPLES AND APPLICATIONS Figure 5. t = 0. (a) Left Column: Dilation with a disc. t = 0. 1. (b) Middle Column: Dilation with a quadratic structuring function. 20. 275. 1275. 70.

. 140. t = 0. t = 0. σ = 1). 5000. 50. σ = 1). (b) Middle Column: Modified mean curvature motion (λ = 3. Top: Original image. Ω = (0. (a) Left Column: Affine morphological scale-space. 600. 350.1. 1500. t = 0. 40000.6: Evolution of an MRI slice under different PDEs.5. (c) Right Column: Self-snakes (λ = 3. 20. EDGE-ENHANCING DIFFUSION 123 Figure 5. 236)2. 100.

Thus. the nose) exhibit roundings at an earlier stage. 5. 364. the experiments give evidence that this process is probably not contrast-enhancing.6(b). Since they differ from isotropic nonlinear diffusion filters by the |∇u| terms inside and outside the divergence expression.108) shown in Fig.5(c). After some time. Since it takes the time T = 3 s 3 to remove 4 1 all isolines within a circle of radius s – in contrast to T = 2 s2 for MCM – we see that. Since MCM shrinks level lines with a velocity that is proportional to their curvature. On the other hand. Nevertheless. let us investigate the modified MCM ∂t u = g(|∇uσ |2 ) |∇u| div ∇u |∇u| (5.g. the correspondence problem is more severe than for MCM.g. low-curved object boundaries are less affected by this process. One possibility to reduce the correspondence problem of morphological scalespaces is to attenuate the curve evolution at high-contrast edges. As a consequence.124 CHAPTER 5. Processes of this type are studied in [13.11) In Section 1.6 we have seen that processes of this type are called self-snakes [357]. it is ideal for uncommitted image analysis and shape recognition. The corresponding evolution is depicted in Fig. the chin. This is in accordance with the theory which predicts convergence of all closed level lines to circular points.32). but they are not designed to act contrast-enhancing. 5. A similar behaviour can be observed for the affine invariant morphological scale4 space (1. while high-curved structures (e. see e. 5. the advantage of having affine invariance may counterbalance the correspondence problem in certain applications.90) depicted in Fig. Both MCM and AMSS give significantly sharper edges than linear diffusion filtering.6(a). 304]. We observe that structures remain much better localized than in the original MCM. This is at the expense of withdrawing morphology in terms of invariance under monotone greyscale transformations. the head looks almost like a ball. Since the AMSS involves no additional parameters and offers more invariances than other scale-spaces. 365.10) with g(|∇uσ |2 ) as in (1. EXAMPLES AND APPLICATIONS A completely different morphological evolution is given by the mean curvature motion (1. One possibility is to use the damping function outside the divergence expression. the results appear less segmentation-like than those for nonlinear diffusion filtering. the shrinking effect of large structures is stronger for AMSS than for MCM. This also explains its excellent noise elimination qualities. As a simple prototype for this idea. however. |∇u| (5. Using g(|∇uσ |2 ) inside the divergence expression leads to ∂t u = |∇u| div g(|∇uσ |2 ) ∇u .6. they will not preserve the average . for a comparable elimination of small structure.

However. The quality of a fabric is determined by two criteria. For a suitable parameter choice. namely clouds and stripes. For furniture production it is of importance to classify the quality of wood surfaces. 257)2. 5. one has to process the image in such a way that quality relevant features become better visible und unimportant structures disappear. .4) can be applied with good success (Fig. 5. Fig. 5. (a) Left: Fabric. This behaviour which resembles MCM is not surprising if one compares (1.120) with (1.6(c) indicates that g(|∇uσ |2 ) gives similar edgeenhancing effects as in a nonlinear diffusion filter.121). t = 240. whereas stripes are an anisotropic phenomenon caused by adjacent fibres pointing in the same direction. whereas stripes can be enhanced by a special nonlinear diffusion filter which is designed for closing interrupted lines and which shall be discussed in Section 5.5. Clouds result from isotropic inhomogeneities of the density distribution.2.8(b)). equation (5.1. If one aims to automize this evaluation.7: Preprocessing of a fabric image. To visualize this defect. grey value. but one can observe a stronger tendency to create circular structures. λ = 4. Anisotropic diffusion filters are capable of visualizing both qualityrelevant features simultaneously (Fig. (b) Right: Anisotropic diffusion. EDGE-ENHANCING DIFFUSION 125 Figure 5.7). they perform isotropic smoothing at clouds and diffuse in an anisotropic way along fibres in order to enhance them. one can use a fast pyramid algorithm based on linear diffusion filtering for the clouds [417]. Let us now study two applications of nonlinear diffusion filtering in computer aided quality control (CAQ): the grading of fabrics and wood surfaces (see also [413]). if one wants to visualize both features separately. 5. σ = 2.8(a) depicts a wood surface possessing one defect. The evolution in Fig. Ω = (0.

In order to make the diagnosis more objective and reliable. . and the entire head area. t = 2000. one gets a better segmentation when processing the original image slightly by means of nonlinear diffusion filtering (Fig. (5. K) = Ω (u−f )2 dx + α|K|.9(c) shows a segmentation according to the following simplification of the Mumford– Shah functional (1. As is seen in Fig. 256)2.9(d).8: Defect detection in wood. In [413] it is demonstrated how a modified anisotropic diffusion process yields even more accurate results with less roundings at the corners. 5. Fig.12) It has been obtained by a MegaWave programme using a hierarchical region growing algorithm due to Koepfler et al. Ω = (0. It depicts an MRI slice of the human head.9(b)) prior to segmenting it. 5. Figure 5. (a) Left: Wood surface.58): Ef (u. EXAMPLES AND APPLICATIONS Figure 5. σ = 2. which are given by the two white longitudinal objects in the centre. For detecting Alzheimer’s disease one is interested in determining the ratio between the ventricle areas. λ = 4. it is intended to automize this feature extraction step by a segmentation algorithm. (b) Right: Isotropic nonlinear diffusion.9(a) gives an example for possible medical applications of nonlinear diffusion filtering as a preprocessing tool for segmentation (see also [415] for another example). 5. [239].126 CHAPTER 5.

256)2. If one wants to enhance coherent structures. (b) Top Right: Diffusion-filtered. µ2 with µ1 ≥ µ2 be the eigenvalues of Jρ . (d) Bottom Right: Segmented filtered image.5. σ = 0. α = 8192. v2 the corresponding orthonormal eigenvectors.1 the diffusion tensor D(Jρ (∇uσ )) ought to possess the same set of eigenvectors as Jρ (∇uσ ).1. Ω = (0.2 5. and v1 .2. (a) Top Left: Head.1 Coherence-enhancing diffusion Filter design In this section we shall investigate how the structure tensor information can be used to design anisotropic diffusion scale-spaces which enhance the coherence of flow-like textures [418]. 5. λ = 5. one should smooth preferably . (c) Bottom Left: Segmented original image. Let again µ1 . This requires a nonvanishing integration scale ρ. α = 8192.5.2. COHERENCE-ENHANCING DIFFUSION 127 Figure 5.9: Preprocessing of an MRI slice. As in 5. t = 2.

ρ = 4. 256)2. along the coherence direction v2 with a diffusivity λ2 which increases with respect to the coherence (µ1 −µ2 )2 .5. m ∈ IN): λ1 := α. Ω = (0. σ = 0.5. EXAMPLES AND APPLICATIONS Figure 5. (d) Bottom Right: Structure tensor orientation. (c) Bottom Left: Orientation of smoothed gradient. λ2 :=   α where the exponential function was chosen to ensure the smoothness of D and the  α + (1−α) exp −C (µ1−µ2 )2m if µ1 = µ2 . This may be achieved by the following choice for the eigenvalues of the diffusion tensor (C > 0. σ = 0. σ = 5. else.10: Local orientation in a fingerprint image. (a) Top Left: Original fingerprint.128 CHAPTER 5. (b) Top Right: Orientation of smoothed gradient. .

(b) Right: Coherenceenhancing anisotropic diffusion.1): ∂t u = uξξ = |∇u| curv(u) (5. filters of this type are not regularizations of the Perona–Malik process: the limit σ → 0. 5.10(b)). the results in (c) are much worse than in (b). however. 5.001. In order to detect the local orientation of the fingerprint depicted in Fig.2. Since MCM smoothes by propagating level lines in inner normal direction we recognize that its smoothing di2 Evidently.5. m := 1. t = 5.2 Applications Figure 5. σ = 0.10 illustrates the advantages of local orientation analysis by means of the structure tensor. We observe very high fluctuations in the local orientation. COHERENCE-ENHANCING DIFFUSION 129 Figure 5. the gradient orientation of a slightly smoothed image has been calculated (Fig. ρ = 4. 5. Therefore. The structure tensor.5. and α := 0. Horizontally oriented structures appear black.2 All examples below are calculated using C := 1. When applying a larger smoothing kernel it is clear that adjacent gradients having the same orientation but opposite direction cancel out. 1. let us recall the example of mean curvature motion (cf.10(a).11: Anisotropic equations applied to the fingerprint image. 1) keeps D(Jρ (∇uσ )) uniformly positive definite. . small positive parameter α ∈ (0. This is the reason for the reliable estimates of local orientation that can be obtained with this method (Fig.10(d)).6. while vertical structures are represented in white. t = 20. 5.2. ρ → 0 leads to a linear diffusion process with constant diffusivity α. (a) Left: Mean-curvature motion.13) with ξ being the direction perpendicular to ∇u. To illustrate how the result of anisotropic PDE methods depends on the direction in which they smooth. averages the gradient orientation instead of its direction.

Thus. 5. although this method is in a complete anisotropic spirit. see Fig. (d) Bottom Right: t = 640. (a) Top Left: Original fabric image. EXAMPLES AND APPLICATIONS Figure 5. (c) Bottom Left: t = 120. biases the diffusive flux towards the coherence orientation v2 and is therefore well-suited for closing interrupted lines in coherent flow-like textures. The results in Fig.11(a) confirm this impression. Due to its reduced diffusivity at noncoherent structures.5.130 CHAPTER 5. 257)2. ρ = 2). Ω = (0. however. (b) Top Right: t = 20.12: Scale-space behaviour of coherence-enhancing diffusion (σ = 0.11(b). The proposed anisotropic diffusion filter. the locations of the semantically important singularities in the fingerprint remain the same. we should not expect it to be capable of closing interrupted line-like structures. 5. rection depends exclusively on ∇u. . This is an important prerequisite that any image processing method has to satisfy if it is to be applied to fingerprint analysis.

(c) we observe that CED is capable of enhancing the trabecular structures in order to ease their subsequent orientation analysis.13 illustrates the potential of CED for medical applications. t = 16. Figure 5. (c) Bottom Right: Dito with t = 128.12 depicts the scale-space behaviour of coherence-enhancing anisotropic diffusion applied to the fabric image from Fig. . the trabeculae.2. such as the placement or removal of metal implants.13: (a) Top: High resolution slipring CT scan of a femural bone. (b) Bottom Left: Filtered by coherence-enhancing anisotropic diffusion. The temporal behaviour of this diffusion filter seems to be appropriate for visualizing coherent fibre agglomerations (stripes) at different scales. Its internal structure has a distinctive texture through the presence of tiny elongated bony structural elements.7. quantifying the rate of progression of rheumatism and osteoporosis. a difficult problem for the automatic grading of nonwovens [299]. 186). COHERENCE-ENHANCING DIFFUSION 131 Figure 5. 5. Ω = (0. 300) × (0. There is evidence that the trabecular formation is for a great deal determined by the external load. ρ = 6. Examples are the control of recovery after surgical procedures.13(b). For this reason the trabecular structure constitutes an important clinical parameter in orthopedics. It depicts a human bone.5. σ = 0. Figure 5. From Figure 5. the determination of left-right deviations of symmetry in the load or establishing optimal load corrections by physiotherapy.5.

In order to demonstrate the influence of the integration scale ρ. (a) Left: “Selfportrait” by van Gogh (Saint-R´my. t = 6. Fig. all filter parameters are fixed except for ρ. Interestingly. 215) × (0. In a last example the temporal evolution of flow-like images is illustrated by virtue of the “Starry Night” painting in Fig. 5. 1889. ρ = 4. a further increasing of ρ does hardly alter this result (Fig. The next painting we are concerned with is called “Road with Cypress and Star” [162. 5. It is depicted in Fig. Ω = (0.15(c)). Let us now investigate the impact of coherence-enhancing diffusion on images. (b) Right: Filtered. Due to the established .5. 5. 5. Muse´ d’Orsay). which are not typical texture images. but still reveal a flow-like character. which indicates that this van Gogh painting possesses a uniform “texture scale” reflecting the characteristic painting style of the artist. To this end.132 CHAPTER 5. 275).14: Image restoration using coherence-enhancing anisotropic diffusion.15(b) shows that a value for ρ which is too small does not lead to the visually dominant coherence orientation and creates structures with a lot of undesired fluctuations. We observe that the diffusion filter can close interrupted lines and enhance the flow-like character which is typical for van Gogh paintings.15.16 [160. Increasing the value for ρ improves the image significantly (Fig. e Paris.14 shows the restoration properties of coherence-enhancing anisotropic diffusion when being applied to a selfportrait of the artist [161]. we shall process impressionistic paintings by Vincent van Gogh. e σ = 0. 5. 5. Fig. 419]. EXAMPLES AND APPLICATIONS Figure 5.15(d)). 429].

(d) Bottom Right: ρ = 6.15: Impact of the integration scale on coherence-enhancing anisotropic diffusion (σ = 0. t = 8).5. Rijksmuseum Kr¨ller–M¨ ller). 203) × (0. . (a) Top Left: “Road with Cypress and Star” by van Gogh (Auvers-sur-Oise. (c) Bottom Left: ρ = 4. Ω = (0. 1890. 290).2. COHERENCE-ENHANCING DIFFUSION 133 Figure 5. Otterlo. (b) Top Right: o u Filtered with ρ = 1.5.

The Museum of Modern Art). Ω = (0. (b) Top Right: t = 8. scale-space properties. 199). 255) × (0. e 1889. EXAMPLES AND APPLICATIONS Figure 5. (d) Bottom Right: t = 512. a constant image with the same average grey value as the original one. the image becomes gradually simpler in many aspects. New York. The flow-like character. before it finally will tend to its simplest representation. is maintained for a very long time.5. however.16: Scale-space properties of coherence-enhancing anisotropic diffusion (σ = 0. ρ = 4).3 3 Results for AMSS filtering of this image can be found in [305]. (a) Top Left: “Starry Night” by van Gogh (Saint-R´my. (c) Bottom Left: t = 64. .134 CHAPTER 5.

new possibilities with respect to image restoration appear. while representatives of the discrete class may arise from time discretizations of semidiscrete filters. maximum–minimum principles. Lyapunov functionals. Therefore. invariances. information-reducing transformations. These global smoothing properties do not contradict seemingly opposite local effects such as edge enhancement. For this reason it is possible to design scale-spaces with restoration properties giving segmentation-like results. continuous dependence of the solution on the initial image. the goal of Chapters 2–5 has been to present a scale-space framework for nonlinear diffusion filtering which does not require any monotony assumption (comparison principle). as a consequence. Rather than deducing a unique equation from first principles we have analysed well-posedness and scale-space properties of a general family of regularized anisotropic diffusion filters. We have seen that. they give the user the liberty to incorporate a-priori knowledge. The degree of freedom within the proposed class of filters can be used to tailor the filters towards specific restoration tasks. On the other hand.Chapter 6 Conclusions and perspectives While Chapter 1 has given a general overview of PDE-based smoothing and restoration methods. Existence and uniqueness results. besides the fact that many global smoothing scale-space properties are maintained. these scale-spaces do not need to be uncommitted. Each of these frameworks is self-contained and does not require the others. semidiscrete and discrete setting. for instance concerning size and contrast of especially interesting features. representatives of the semidiscrete class can be obtained by suitable spatial discretizations of the continuous class. and convergence to a constant steady-state have been established. The large class of Lyapunov functionals permits to regard these filters in many ways as simplifying. Prerequisites have been stated under which one can prove well-posedness and scale-space results in the continuous. the prerequisites in all three settings reveal many similarities and. 135 .

however. are likely to consist of straightforward extensions of topics presented in this text: • While the theory and the examples in the present book focus on 2-D greyscale images. however. Thus. Coherence-enhancing anisotropic diffusion is only a first step in this direction. In view of these results. it is evident that most of its results can easily be generalized to higher dimensions and vector-valued images. Last but not least. . The scale-space stack of these filters appears to be well-suited to extract semantically important information with respect to a specified task. and the wish to integrate information from different channels. This could lead to specifically tuned filters for topics such as perceptual grouping. • The various possibilities to include semilocal or global information constitute another future perspective. or steerable filters. It is a flexible and mathematically sound class of methods which ties the advantages of two worlds: scale-space analysis and image restoration. we can expect a lot of new results in the near future. Gabor filters. It is clear. Although this problem is less severe. the general availability of affordable colour scanners and printers. This field offers a lot of challenging mathematical questions. the relation between structures at different scales has rarely been exploited in the nonlinear context. it would certainly be useful to better understand the deep structure in nonlinear diffusion processes. Some of the references in Chapter 1 point in directions how this can be accomplished.136 CHAPTER 6. New filter models might arise using other structure descriptors than the (regularized) gradient or the structure tensor. the fact that these filters are steered by the structure tensor instead of the regularized gradient allows to adapt them to more sophisticated tasks such as the enhancement of coherent flow-like structures. that nonlinear diffusion filtering is a young field which has certainly not reached its final state yet. The need for such extensions grows with the rapid progress in the development of faster computers. anisotropic diffusion deserves to be regarded as much more than an ad-hoc strategy for transforming a degraded image into a more pleasant looking one. but also novel ape proaches have been proposed: The use of diffusion tensors instead of scalar-valued diffusivities puts us in a position to design real anisotropic diffusion processes which may reveal advantages at noisy edges. since the avoidance of correspondence problems was one of the key motivations to study nonlinear scale-spaces. Interesting candidates could be wavelets. [81] and Whitaker and Pizer [438]. • In contrast to the linear diffusion case. CONCLUSIONS AND PERSPECTIVES The analysed class comprises linear diffusion filtering and the nonlinear isotropic model of Catt´ et al. Some of its future developments.

Especially combinations with concepts such as data compression. splitting and multigrid techniques. Since these parameters have a rather natural meaning. As a consequence. more time-critical application areas could be explored by applying implicit schemes. In this context it would be helpful to have software packages. may be frightened by this perspective. . 444].137 • Most people working in computer vision do not have a specific knowledge on numerical methods for PDEs. 431. Thus. the most widely-used numerical methods for nonlinear diffusion filtering are still the simple. 36. or neural networks for learning a-priori information might lead to novel application areas for these techniques. tomographic reconstruction techniques. and which are easy to use for everyone. Novel. Somebody with another primary interest. Several useful suggestions for parameter adaptation can already be found in [328. there still remains a lot of work to be done. more research on finding some guidelines for automatic parameter determination for a task at hand would encourage also people without a specific image processing background to apply nonlinear diffusion filters. for instance a physician who wants to denoise ultrasound images. but inefficient explicit (Euler forward) schemes. • There are not yet many studies which explore the potential of nonlinear diffusion filtering when being combined with other image processing techniques. or grid adaptation strategies. • The price one has to pay for the flexibility of nonlinear diffusion filtering is the specification of some parameters. It would be nice if this book has inspired its readers to contribute to the solution of some of the remaining open problems. where different nonlinear diffusion filters are implemented in an efficient way. 270. Thus. segmentation algorithms. this is not a very difficult problem for someone with experience in computer vision.

CONCLUSIONS AND PERSPECTIVES .138 CHAPTER 6.

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34. 3. 53. see invariance axiomatics. 21. 14. 50. 11. 5. 57. 49 blind image restoration. 27. 28. 67. see diffusion. 97 continuity equation. 45. 38 area-preserving flows. 44–49 surfaces. 48 basic equation of figure. see additive operator splitting applications. 26. 129–134 arc-length affine. 125–126. 19. 29 morphological scale-space. 110 a-priori knowledge. 116. 113. 28. 61. 130 condition number. 124 CPU times. see perimeter shortening flow. 82. 53. 52 blob detection. 95. 45 invariant heat flow. 14 additive operator splitting. 61 CAD. 116. 62. 42 average globality. 124 Mumford–Shah functional. see vector-valued images commuting operators. 88. 128 coherence direction. 47. see arc-length Gaussian scale-space. 65 CED. 33. 56. 12–14. 15. 40 invariant texture segmentation. 5. 73. 30. 119. 28. 30. 33 curve evolution. see diffusion colour images. 57. 99. 15 causality. 37.Index a-priori estimates. 5. see well-posedness continuous diffusion. 48 invariant gradient. 85. 105. 52. 20. 124. 134 convolution theorem. 13. 93. 57. 107–111 affine arc-length. 2 continuous dependence. see scale-space balloon force. 36. 46 adaptive mesh coarsening. 25 adaptive smoothing. see diffusion contrast enhancement. 61. 12. 45 BUC. 40. 106. see diffusion AOS. 19. 76. 106 conjugate gradient methods. 46 contour models. 113 crystal growth. 28. 52 165 . 29 perimeter. 135 active blobs. 26. 102 circular point. 40–45. 52. 32 coherence. 118. 5. 39 closing. 46. 22. 72. 40 Euclidean. 135 computer aided quality control. 38–43. 114–126. 38 curvature of a curve. 44. see shortening flow transformation. 33 of an image. 13 invariance. see transformation AMSS. 106 continuity. 10 corners. 24. 113–126 contrast parameter. 13 bias term. 43 deblurring. 37 Canny edge detector. 128 coherence-enhancing diffusion. see affine morphological scale-space anisotropic diffusion. see invariance invariant geodesic snakes. 50. 116 correspondence problem. 26. 98. 74 average grey level invariance. 26. 47 curve evolution schemes. 34. 16 convergence. 29. coherence-enhancing central moments. 62 comparison principle.

see diffusion elliptic point. 89. 75–95 tensor. 103. 114 focus-of-attention. 48. 127. 51 o Perona–Malik. 93. 28. 37. 5 differential inequalities. 39. 36 dilation. 16 flux. 24. 25. 50. 2. 55–137 on a sphere. 117 isotropic. 130 FD. 126 Nordstr¨m. 72. 19. 110. 86–87. 28 flame propagation. 14–27. 87. 127 fingerprint enhancement. 2. 127–134 continuous. 66. 28 diffusivity. 16. 44 distance transformation. 44. 30. see finite differences feature vectors. 55. 114. 76. 25. 105. 37. 114. 11. 113–137 backward. 2. 58. 11. reaction– diffusion erosion. 4. 135 diffusion–reaction. 24 Fick’s law. 32. 116 coherence-enhancing. 46 extremum principle. 50. 18–20. 41. 88–95. 116 linear. 11. 106. 107–111 discrete analogue AMSS. 2 forward–backward. 53. 11. 29 geodesic snakes. 37 entropy. 11. 2 semidiscrete. 23. 94 directional splitting. 72 homogeneous. 48 Mumford–Shah. 12 physical background. 113–126 equation. 66. 15. 51 ENO schemes. 98. 50. 2 inhomogeneous. 33 existence. 52. 5 diffusion anisotropic. 11 forensic applications. 10 linear diffusion. 113. 41 energy. 42 TV-minimization. see well-posedness expected value. 27 systems. 29 INDEX edge detection. see computer aided quality control defocusing. 2. 102 energy functional explicit snakes. see perimeter shortening flow. 35. 43. 27. 38 flowline. 14 discrete. 47. 88. 2–22. 113. 30. 27. 73 explicit schemes. 22. 6. 22. 62. 97–111 discrete diffusion. 137 external energy. 24. 43. 73. 13. 25. 5. 97–111 edge-enhancing. 87–95. 29 differences-of-Gaussians. 47. 85. 2–14. 118 single equations. 58. 136 defect detection. 15. 28. see transformation Eulerian formulation. 32. 27–30. 30. 28.166 deep structure. 102–111. 56 directional diffusivities. 10 nonlinear diffusion. 13. 73 entropy scale-space. 22. 119 direction. 2. 105 fabrics. 95. 52 . 46. 44. MCM. 102 generalized. 53. 36. 125. see scale-space. 18 Polyakov. see arc-length perimeter. 113 finite elements. 98 edge cost. 55–74. 63. 2. 26. 116. 7 deviation cost. 43 Gaussian. 85. 50. 116 digitally scalable. 5. 57 edge enhancement. 17 differential invariants. 129 finite differences. see shortening flow transformation. 47. see contrast enhancement edge-enhancing diffusion. 25. 45. 47 DoGs. 15. see differences-of-Gaussians doubly stochastic matrix. see diffusion dissipative effects. 27. 34. 77. 63 Euclidean arc-length. 51. 111. 24. 30. 62. 55–74 directed. 2 filter design. 46 for curves. 15. 125 nonlinear. 85–95. 43.

137 image enhancement. see invariance grey-scale invariance. 132 interest operator. 63 hysteresis thresholding. 127. 136 Gabor’s restoration method. 40. 62 immediate localization. 57. see invariance halftoning. 35. 81. see invariance isophote. 44 level set methods. 81 irreducibility. 13. 75 grey-scale. 31. 26 linear diffusion. 45. 25. 48 geodesic curvature flow. 35 pyramid. 124 isometry. 42 invariance affine. 13 jet space. 76. 82–85 sequences. 35. 44 elimination. see image enhancement image sequences. see diffusion linear systems. 81 rotational. see Laplacian-of-Gaussian Lyapunov functionals. 8. 45 Huygens principle. 106 generalized entropy. 36 line detection. 3. 16 Japanese scale-space research. see invariance. 34. 29. 65 noncreation. 81 morphological. 119 grey level shift. 53 image colour. 64. 64. 42 Gabor filters. 43. 76 local extrema creation. 76. 2 histogramme enhancement. 75. 30. 110 linearity. 21. 63. 42 level set. 24. 44 free discontinuity problems. 113–134 image restoration. 98 Markov processes. 11. 65 local scale. 106. 4. 12. 114. 5. 57 LoG. 24 junctions. 41. 37 hardware realizations. 7. 4. 19 implicit schemes. see vector-valued images image compression. 137 167 information theory. 45 gas dynamics. 99. 3. 13 geodesic. see scale-space smoothing. 81 grey-scale. 44. 135 functions. 97 isometry invariance. grey-scale reverse contrast. 39. 33 grey level shift invariance. 46 intrinsic heat flows. 56. see entropy generalized figure. 11 scale-space. 45. 49. 107. 13. 5 length-preserving flows. 43 scale. 47. 39. 56 Gauß–Seidel method. 15 Iijima’s axiomatic. 76. 48. 49 gauge coordinates. 42 geometric heat equation. 42–45 average grey level. 13. 28. 10 integration scale. 42. 43. 17. 16 Gaussian derivatives. 33 hyperstack. 11 . 11. 29 fundamental equation in image processing. 98. 10. 43. 38. 55 higher dimensional. 7 ill-posedness. 66–74. see three-dimensional images vector-valued. 44. 45. 8 Lipschitz-continuity. see vector-valued images discrete. 28–30. 50 Laplacian-of-Gaussian. 106 kernel. 8 translation. 48–53. 11. 31. 56 Kramer–Bruckner filter. 14–30. 33 heat equation. 73 integral geometry. 5. 73. 2–14.INDEX Fourier transformation. 55– 74. 98–102 Markov chains. 63. 3. 30. 62. 119 nonenhancement. see structure tensor internal energy. 39 grassfire flow.

131 MegaWave. 45 random variable. 6 redistribution property. 20–24 scale-space properties. 25. 107 Nordstr¨m functional. 102–111. 31 classical. see local extrema nonenhancement of local extrema. 30. see ordinary differential equations opening. 44. 129 backward. 17 regularizations. 45. 46. 30–37 continuous-scale. see diffusion nonnegativity. greyscale morphology. 85–95. 136 perimeter affine. 125. 29. 87 positivity. 45. 137 noise elimination. 43. 47. 36. 113 oversegmentation. 113 oceanography. 27. 21. 114. 11. 99 region growing. 126 regularity. 10. 45 minimal surfaces. 106. 45. 37 PDE. 19 morphological invariance. 32 curvature-based. 111 parameter determination. see scale-space recursive filters. 107. 61 . 28 nonconvex. 137 partial differential equations. 15 edge enhancement. 119. 25 pyramids. 8 postprocessing. 53 ordinary differential equations. 21. 41 Euclidean. 28. see partial differential equations perceptual grouping. 124 noise scale. 48 reaction–diffusion scale-space. 58. 15 ill-posedness. 29 Marr–Hildreth operator. 19 pixel numbering. 18 ODE. 25. 52. 114 basic idea. 33 predictor–corrector schemes. 93. 32 optic flow. 37–40. 52 optical character recognition. 17. 29 parallel computing. 36. 26. 10. see energy functiono als numerical aspects. see mean curvature motion mean curvature motion. 21. 116–126. 75–95 orientation. 126 min–max flow. 45 mean field annealing. 50 Osher–Sethian schemes. 110. 49. 11. see invariance. 11. 109 preprocessing. 25. 72 reaction–diffusion bubbles. 23. see local extrema nonlinear diffusion. 29. 5 maximal monotone operator. 26 prairie flow. 31 multigrid.168 Markov random fields. 88. 113. 39 Perona–Malik filter. 10. 28. 28. 38 monotonicity preservation. 51. 5. 97 positivity preservation. 118. 30–49. 116. 125 quantization. 57 non-maxima suppression. 30. see extremum principle MCM. 111 recursivity. 62. 119–124 binary. 17 maximum–minimum principle. 27 median filtering. 11. 19 semidiscrete. 97. 44. 129 oscillations. 56. 51. 25. 12. 116. 13 INDEX optimization convex. 76. 37–49 grey-scale. 87 piecewise smoothing. 38 medical imaging. see energy functional neural networks. 19. 63. 111. 110 Mumford–Shah functional. 46. 129. 15 noncreation of local extrema. 119. 27 path planning. 14–20. 25. 1–53 particle methods. 126 pseudospectral methods. 137 multiplicative operator splittings. 27. 42–45. 50. 110.

6. 97 scale invariance. 113 semidiscrete. 99. 76. 81– 95 smoothing principles. 99–111 for curves. 116 linearity principle. 13. 47. 49 creation. 35. 56 exaggeration. 29 skeletonization. 128 snakes. 34. 41. 43. 136 stencil size. 44. 30. 47 self-snakes. 45 . 58. 97 target tracking. 118. 106 stability. 34 discrete nonlinear diffusion. 11. 45 shape inclusion principle. 124 software. 39 shape-adapted Gaussian smoothing. see snakes semi-implicit schemes. 35 smoothness. 26. 126. 31 simulated annealing. 4. 11 scale–imprecision space. see invariance scale selection. 6 axioms. 37. 75–95 semidiscrete diffusion. 62 stochastic matrix. 29. 62. 41 anisotropic diffusion. 58. 25. 42 reaction–diffusion. 43 shape. 10 nonlinear diffusion. 6. 72. 7. 116 string theory. 53. 50. 44. 46 explicit. 49. see diffusion semigroup property. see structure tensor second moment matrix. 110 set-theoretic schemes. 88–95 stereo. 48. 106. 35 subpixel accuracy. 42 structure tensor. 41 Euclidean. 76. 20 reverse contrast invariance. 45 offset. see structure tensor segmentation. 34. 56. 137 self-snakes. 37 slope transform. 10. 27 terrain matching. 50. 52. 59 steady-state. 116. 10 semidiscrete analogue linear diffusion. 39. 10. 38 silhouette. 42 for image sequences. 25. 45 semidiscrete linear. 27 row sum. 7 linear diffusion. 50 filters. 25. 27. 4. 97. 29 staircasing effect. 8. 21. 53 dilation–erosion. 6 scale-space affine Gaussian. 62–74 architectural principles. 76. 109 stabilizing cost. 74. 11. 27 rescaling. 7 mean curvature. 6. 48. 63. 44. 22 shape-from-shading. 136 structuring element. 52 Stampacchia’s truncation method. 28. 118 projective. 42 Gaussian. 114 remote sensing. 25. 39 morphological equivalent of Gaussian scalespace. 27. 37 recognition. 44.INDEX regularization. 93. 11. 48 implicit. 43 for shapes. 35 nonlinear diffusion. 27. 46 geodesic. 34 169 separability. 36 subsampling. see convergence steerable filters. 13 affine morphological. 98 stopping time. 18. 39. 6 invariance principles. 73 symmetry. 114. 31 cues. 36. 25. 62–74. 7 general concept. 50 shortening flow affine. 42. 102–111. 32 structuring function. 86. 124 segmentation. 36. 137 SOR. 62 scatter matrix. 28. 45. 37 shock capturing schemes. see invariance robust statistics. 10 semidiscrete nonlinear diffusion.

76. 49. 125 zero-crossings. 34. 73 vector-valued images. 58. 61 visual system. 49 minimizing methods. 131 variance. see total variation uniform positive definiteness. 43. 28. 62. 42. 34. 29. 30 segmentation. 30 TV. 27. 44. 53. 17. 42 translation invariance. 136 topological changes. 23. 39. 76. 29 three-dimensional images. 135 wood surfaces. 52. see well-posedness van Gogh. 98. 129 uniqueness. 45. 136 viscosity solution. 41. 41. 28. 56 discrimination. 24. 29 well-posedness. 11. 34. 47–49. 43. 77. 47 toppoint. 33 wavelets. 45. 12 total variation. 15. 5. 136 weak membrane model. 25. 58. 4. 47–49. 26. 52. see invariance Turing’s pattern formation model. 49 transformation affine. 24. 40 Euclidean. 127 generation. 50 preserving methods. 30. 46. 38 projective. 45. 20. 62. 43. 93. 50 INDEX .170 texture analysis. 24. 5. 73 enhancement. 46–48.

numerical aspects. A large number of references enables the reader to acquire an up-to-date overview of the original literature. A general framework is explored covering well-posedness and scale-space results not only for the continuous.Anisotropic Diffusion in Image Processing Joachim Weickert University of Copenhagen Many recent techniques for digital image enhancement and multiscale image representations are based on nonlinear partial differential equations. Their flexibility allows to combine smoothing properties with image enhancement qualities. B.G. This book gives an introduction to the main ideas behind these methods. but also for the algorithmically important semidiscrete and fully discrete settings. and applications. Teubner Stuttgart . The central emphasis is on anisotropic nonlinear diffusion filters. The presented examples range from applications in medical image analysis to problems in computer aided quality control. and it describes in a systematic way their theoretical foundations.

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