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We explore the application of genetic algorithms (GA) to deformable models through the proposition of a novel method for medical image segmentation that combines GA with nonconvex, localized, medial-based shape statistics. We replace the more typical gradient descent optimizer used in deformable models with GA, and the convex, implicit, global shape statistics with nonconvex, explicit, localized ones. Specifically, we propose GA to reduce typical deformable model weaknesses pertaining to model initialization, pose estimation and local minima, through the simultaneous evolution of a large number of models. Furthermore, we constrain the evolution, and thus reduce the size of the search-space, by using statistically-based deformable models whose deformations are intuitive (stretch, bulge, bend) and are driven in terms of localized principal modes of variation, instead of modes of variation across the entire shape that often fail to capture localized shape changes. Although GA are not guaranteed to achieve the global optima, our method compares favorably to the prevalent optimization techniques, convex/nonconvex gradient-based optimizers and to globally optimal graph-theoretic combinatorial optimization techniques, when applied to the task of corpus callosum segmentation in 50 mid-sagittal brain magnetic resonance images.
Date of Publication: Jan. 2012