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This paper proposes a general quadrilateral-based framework for image segmentation, in which quadrilaterals are first constructed from an edge map, where neighboring quadrilaterals with similar features of interest are then merged together to form regions. Under the proposed framework, the quadrilaterals enable the elimination of local variations and unnecessary details for merging from which each segmented region is accurately and completely described by a set of quadrilaterals. To illustrate the effectiveness of the proposed framework, we derived an efficient and high-performance parameterless quadrilateral-based segmentation algorithm from the framework. The proposed algorithm shows that the regions obtained under the framework are segmented into multiple levels of quadrilaterals that accurately represent the regions without severely over or undersegmenting them. When evaluated objectively and subjectively, the proposed algorithm performs better than three other segmentation techniques, namely, seeded region growing, k-means clustering and constrained gravitational clustering, and offers an efficient description of the segmented objects conducive to content-based applications.