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This paper presents a new approach to the extraction of straight lines in intensity images. Pixels are grouped into line-support regions of similar gradient orientation, and then the structure of the associated intensity surface is used to determine the location and properties of the edge. The resulting regions and extracted edge parameters form a low-level representation of the intensity variations in the image that can be used for a variety of purposes. The algorithm appears to be more effective than previous techniques for two key reasons: 1) the gradient orientation (rather than gradient magnitude) is used as the initial organizing criterion prior to the extraction of straight lines, and 2) the global context of the intensity variations associated with a straight line is determined prior to any local decisions about participating edge elements.