This paper presents a suboptimal boundary estimation algorithm for noisy images which is based upon an optimal maximum likelihood problem formulation. Both the maximum likelihood formulation and the resulting algorithm are described in detail, and computational results are given. In addition, the potential power of the likelihood formulation is demonstrated through the presentation of three simple but insightful analyses of algorithm performance. These analyses are based on a technique we have developed for comparing the accuracies of different boundary finding algorithms. This technique also helps in understanding the interplay of object shape and data models in the relative performances of boundary finders. Some of the algorithm design considerations resulting from the use of our analysis technique are new and, at first, surprising. Our technique appears to be the only one developed for comparing the accuracies of different boundary finding algorithms.