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This paper introduces a new edge-grouping method to detect perceptually salient structures in noisy images. Specifically, we define a new grouping cost function in a ratio form, where the numerator measures the boundary proximity of the resulting structure and the denominator measures the area of the resulting structure. This area term introduces a preference towards detecting larger-size structures and, therefore, makes the resulting edge grouping more robust to image noise. To find the optimal edge grouping with the minimum grouping cost, we develop a special graph model with two different kinds of edges and then reduce the grouping problem to finding a special kind of cycle in this graph with a minimum cost in ratio form. This optimal cycle-finding problem can be solved in polynomial time by a previously developed graph algorithm. We implement this edge-grouping method, test it on both synthetic data and real images, and compare its performance against several available edge-grouping and edge-linking methods. Furthermore, we discuss several extensions of the proposed method, including the incorporation of the well-known grouping cues of continuity and intensity homogeneity, introducing a factor to balance the contributions from the boundary and region information, and the prevention of detecting self-intersecting boundaries.
Date of Publication: Oct. 2007