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3, MARCH 2007 189
A New Fast and Efficient Decision-Based Algorithm
for Removal of High-Density Impulse Noises
K. S. Srinivasan and D. Ebenezer
Abstract—A new decision-based algorithm is proposed for
restoration of images that are highly corrupted by impulse noise.
The new algorithm shows significantly better image quality than
a standard median filter (SMF), adaptive median filters (AMF),
a threshold decomposition filter (TDF), cascade, and recursive
nonlinear filters. The proposed method, unlike other nonlinear
filters, removes only corrupted pixel by the median value or by its
neighboring pixel value. As a result of this, the proposed method
removes the noise effectively even at noise level as high as 90%
and preserves the edges without any loss up to 80% of noise level.
The proposed algorithm (PA) is tested on different images and
is found to produce better results in terms of the qualitative and
quantitative measures of the image.
Index Terms—Decision-based filter, impulse noise, median fil-
tering, nonlinear filter.
MAGES are often corrupted by impulse noise, also known
as salt and pepper noise. A standard signal processing re-
quirement is to remove randomly occurring impulses without
disturbing edges. It is well known that linear filtering techniques
fail when the noise is non-additive and are not effective in re-
moving impulse noise. This has lead the researchers to the use
of nonlinear signal processing techniques. A class of widely
used nonlinear digital filters are median filters. Median filters
are known for their capability to remove impulse noise as well
as preserve the edges. The main drawback of a standard me-
dian filter (SMF) is that it is effective only for low noise den-
sities. At high noise densities, SMFs often exhibit blurring for
large window sizes and insufficient noise suppression for small
window sizes [7], [8].
The filters designed for image processing are required to
yield sufficient noise reduction without losing the high-fre-
quency content of image edges [5], [8]. However, most of the
median filters operate uniformly across the image and thus tend
to modify both noise and noise-free pixels.
Consequently, the effective removal of impulse often leads to
images with blurred and distorted features. Ideally, the filtering
should be applied only to corrupted pixels while leaving un-
corrupted pixels intact [2]–[4]. Applying median filter uncondi-
tionally across the entire image as practiced in the conventional
Manuscript received February 16, 2006; revised June 22, 2006. The associate
editor coordinating review of this manuscript and approving it for publication
was Dr. Vince D. Calhoun.
K.S. Srinivasan is with the Department of Electrical and Electronics Engi-
neering, Sathyabama Institute of Science and Technology, Deemed University,
Chennai-600 119, Tamilnadu, India (e-mail:
D. Ebenezer is with the Department of Electronics and Communication Engi-
neering, Sri Krishna College of Engineering and Technology, Coimbatore-641
008, Tamilnadu, India (e-mail:
Digital Object Identifier 10.1109/LSP.2006.884018
schemes would inevitably alter the intensities and remove the
signal details of uncorrupted pixels. Therefore, a noise-detec-
tion process to discriminate between uncorrupted pixels and the
corrupted pixels prior to applying nonlinear filtering is highly
desirable. AMF, decision-based, or switching median filters [2],
[3], [6] have been proposed with this objective. Possible noisy
pixels are identified and replaced by using median value or its
variant while leaving uncorrupted pixels unchanged. The per-
formance of AMF is good at lower noise density levels, due
to the fact that there are only fewer corrupted pixels that are
replaced by the median values. At higher noise densities, the
number of replacements of corrupted pixel increases consider-
ably; increasing window size will provide better noise removal
performance; however, the corrupted pixel values and replaced
median pixel values are less correlated. As a consequence, the
edges are smeared significantly. The main drawback of deci-
sion-based or switching median filter is that defining a robust
decision measure is difficult [4], because the decision is usually
based on a predefined threshold value. An additional drawback
is that the noisy pixels are replaced by some median value in
their vicinity without taking into account local features such as
possible presence of edges. Hence, details and edges are not re-
covered satisfactorily, especially when the noise level is high.
To overcome the above drawbacks Chan and Nikolova [1]
have proposed a two-phase algorithm. In the first phase of this
algorithm, an adaptive median filter (AMF) is used to classify
corrupted and uncorrupted pixels; in the second phase, special-
ized regularization method is applied to the noisy pixels to pre-
serve the edges and noise suppression. The main drawback of
this method is that the processing time is very high because it
uses a very large window size of 39 39 in both phases to ob-
tain the optimum output; in addition, more complex circuitry is
needed for their implementation as well as the determination of
smoothing factor “ .” To overcome this problem, a new algo-
rithm is proposed in this letter; the corrupted pixels are replaced
by either the median pixel or neighborhood pixel in contrast to
AMF and other existing algorithms that use only median values
for replacement of corrupted pixels. At higher noise densities,
the median value may also be a noisy pixel in which case neigh-
borhood pixels are used for replacement; this provides higher
correlation between the corrupted pixel and neighborhood pixel.
Higher correlation gives rise to better edge preservation. In ad-
dition, the proposed algorithm (PA) uses simple fixed length
window of size 3 3, and hence, it requires significantly lower
processing time compared with AMF and other algorithms.
In SMF, each and every pixel is processed and is replaced
by the median of its neighborhood values. The PA processes
the corrupted image by first detecting the impulse noise. The
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detection of noisy and noise-free pixels is decided by checking
whether the value of a processed pixel element lies between the
maximum and minimum values that occur inside the selected
window. This is because the impulse noise pixels can take the
maximum and minimum values in the dynamic range (0, 255)
[1]. If the value of the pixel processed is within the range, then it
is an uncorrupted pixel and left unchanged. If the value does not
lie within this range, then it is a noisy pixel and is replaced by
the median value of the window or by its neighborhood values.
A. Illustration
Case 1)
Case 2)
Case 3)
If the noise density is high, there is a possibility that the me-
dian value is also a noise value. In the latter case, the pixel pro-
cessed is replaced by the previously processed adjacent neigh-
borhood pixel value in place of the median value. The PA is as
Step 1) A 2-D window “ ” of size 3 3 is selected. As-
sume the pixel to be processed is P(X, Y).
Step 2) The pixel values inside the window are sorted, and
, , and are determined as follows.
a) The rows of the window are arranged in as-
cending order.
b) The columns of the window are arranged in
ascending order.
c) The right diagonal of the window is now ar-
ranged in ascending order.
Now the first element of the window is the
minimum value , the last element of the
window is the maximum value , and the
middle element of the window is the median
value .
Step 3)
Case 1) The P(X,Y) is an uncorrupted pixel if
, , and
; the pixel being processed
is left unchanged. Otherwise, P(X,Y) is a
corrupted pixel.
Case 2) If P(X,Y) is a corrupted pixel, it is replaced
by its median value if
and .
Case 3) If is not satisfied
or , then is a noisy
pixel. In this case, the P(X,Y) is replaced
by the value of neighborhood pixel value.
Step 4) Steps 1 to 3 are repeated until the processing is com-
pleted for the entire image.
In the proposed method, during the third step of right diag-
onal sorting itself, the median, maximum, and minimum pixels
values within the selected window are obtained. Although the
entire window is not sorted in the ascending order, the median
value is obtained. As seen above, after the computation of me-
dian for the elements in the window at a particular position, the
processing element of the window is checked for its nature, i.e.,
whether it is the original pixel value or the noise value. Then
the processing element of the window considered is replaced
with the corresponding value (as in cases 1–3). Subsequently,
the window moves toward the right for a new set of window
values; this processing as well as the updating procedure are re-
peated until the end of the image element is reached.
The performance of the algorithm is tested with different
gray scale images such as girl.jpg (see Table I) lena.gif (see
Table II), and with their dynamic range of values [0,255]. In the
simulation, images will be corrupted by impulse noise (salt and
pepper noise), where 255 represents “salt” and “0” represents
the “pepper” noise with equal probability. The noise levels
are varied from 10% to 90% with increments of 10%, and
restoration performances are quantitatively measured by peak
signal-to-noise ratio (PSNR) and image enhancement factor
MSE mean square error;
IEF image enhancement factor;
n corrupted image;
R original image;
size of image;
x restored image.
The PSNR, IEF ,and CPU computation time in seconds are
calculated for the PA, and a comparison of performance with
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various filters, namely, SMF, AMF, decision-based median fil-
ters, and TDF, are shown in Tables I–III. The simulation results
in Tables I and II show that at higher noise levels, PSNR values
of SMF, AMF, and TDF are very low compared to the PA. The
PA also has superior performance in comparison with other de-
cision-based median [4], [6] and switching filters [2], [4]. The
important aspect of the newPAis that it uses a fixed 3 3 window
for processing, leading to simple physical realization as well as
much smaller computation time. MATLAB 6.5 (R13) on a PC
equipped with 1.8-GHz CPU and 256 MB of RAM memory has
been employed for the evaluation of computation time of all al-
For qualitative analysis, performances of the filters are tested
at different levels of noise densities, and the results are shown
in Figs. 1–4. In Fig. 1, the first column represents original im-
ages, and the second column represents noisy images at different
densities. Subsequent columns represent the processed images
for SMF, AMF, TDF, and PA, respectively. Figs. 2–4 are based
on the test results performed on the girl.jpg image, and the re-
sults are also tabulated in Table I. Fig. 2 shows that the PA pro-
vides better PSNR when compared with SMF, AMF, and TDF
for various values of noise density. Figs. 3 and 4 represent the
IEF and computation time required at various noise densities for
different algorithms. Tables II and III display similar results on
the Lena image.
Anew algorithm has been proposed to address two problems,
namely, blurring of images for large window sizes and poor
noise removal for smaller window sizes, which are commonly
encountered in SMFs. Results reveal that the proposed filter ex-
hibits better performance in comparison with SMF, AMF, and
TD filters in terms of higher PSNR and IEF. In contrast to AMF
and other existing algorithms, the PAuses a small 3 3 window
having only neighbors of the corrupted pixel that have higher
correlation; this provides more edge details, leading to better
edge preservation. The proposed filter also shows consistent
and stable performance across a wide range of noise densities
varying from 10%–90%. Computation time is also reduced by
the factor of 150 to 200 compared with the two-phase algorithm
[1]. Effective noise removal can be observed even up to 90%
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Fig. 1. Simulation results of different filters column. (a) Original image. (b) Noisy corrupted image. (c) Output for SMF. (d) Output for AMF. (e) Output for
TDF. (f) Output for PA. Row 1 shows the girl image corrupted by 70% noise. Row 2 shows the girl image corrupted by 90% noise. Row 3 shows the Lena image
corrupted by 70% noise. Row 4 shows the Lena image corrupted by 90% noise.
Fig. 2. Noise density versus PSNR.
Fig. 3. Noise density versus IEF.
noise density level, while edges are preserved up to 80%. The
PA requires simple physical realization structures.
Fig. 4. Noise density versus computation time in seconds.
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