Real-Time Anisotropic Diffusion using Space-Variant Vision
Schwartz, Eric L.
Cohen, Michael A.
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Many computer and robot vision applications require multi-scale image analysis. Classically, this has been accomplished through the use of a linear scale-space, which is constructed by convolution of visual input with Gaussian kernels of varying size (scale). This has been shown to be equivalent to the solution of a linear diffusion equation on an infinite domain, as the Gaussian is the Green's function of such a system (Koenderink, 1984). Recently, much work has been focused on the use of a variable conductance function resulting in anisotropic diffusion described by a nonlinear partial differential equation (PDF). The use of anisotropic diffusion with a conductance coefficient which is a decreasing function of the gradient magnitude has been shown to enhance edges, while decreasing some types of noise (Perona and Malik, 1987). Unfortunately, the solution of the anisotropic diffusion equation requires the numerical integration of a nonlinear PDF which is a costly process when carried out on a fixed mesh such as a typical image. In this paper we show that the complex log transformation, variants of which are universally used in mammalian retino-cortical systems, allows the nonlinear diffusion equation to be integrated at exponentially enhanced rates due to the non-uniform mesh spacing inherent in the log domain. The enhanced integration rates, coupled with the intrinsic compression of the complex log transformation, yields a seed increase of between two and three orders of magnitude, providing a means of performing real-time image enhancement using anisotropic diffusion.