A method for rapid hierarchical image segmentation based on perceptually driven contour completion and scene statistics is disclosed. The method begins with an initial fine-scale segmentation of an image, such as obtained by perceptual completion of partial contours into polygonal regions using region-contour correspondences established by Delaunay triangulation of edge pixels as implemented in VISTA. The resulting polygons are analyzed with respect to their size and color/intensity distributions and the structural properties of their boundaries. Statistical estimates of granularity of size, similarity of color, texture, and saliency of intervening boundaries are computed and formulated into logical (Boolean) predicates. The combined satisfiability of these Boolean predicates by a pair of adjacent polygons at a given segmentation level qualifies them for merging into a larger polygon representing a coarser, larger-scale feature of the pixel image and collectively obtains the next level of polygonal segments in a hierarchy of fine-to-coarse segmentations. The iterative application of this process precipitates textured regions as polygons with highly convolved boundaries and helps distinguish them from objects which typically have more regular boundaries. The method yields a multiscale decomposition of an image into constituent features that enjoy a hierarchical relationship with features at finer and coarser scales. This provides a traversable graph structure from which feature content and context in terms of other features can be derived, aiding in automated image understanding tasks. The method disclosed is highly efficient and can be used to decompose and analyze large images.
STATEMENT REGARDING FEDERAL RIGHTS
This invention was made with government support under Contract No. DE-AC52-06NA25396, awarded by the U.S. Department of Energy. The government has certain rights in the invention.