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The identification of building rooftops from a single image, without the use of auxiliary 3-D information like stereo pairs or digital elevation models, is a very challenging and difficult task in the area of remote sensing. The existing methodologies rarely tackle the problem of 3-D object identification, like buildings, from a purely stochastic viewpoint. Our approach is based on a stochastic image interpretation model, which combines both 2-D and 3-D contextual information of the imaged scene. Building rooftop hypotheses are extracted using a contour-based grouping hierarchy that emanates from the principles of perceptual organization. We use a Markov random field model to describe the dependencies between all available hypotheses with regard to a globally consistent interpretation. The hypothesis verification step is treated as a stochastic optimization process that operates on the whole grouping hierarchy to find the globally optimal configuration for the locally interacting grouping hypotheses, providing also an estimate of the height of each extracted rooftop. This paper describes the main principles of our method and presents building detection results on a set of synthetic and airborne images.