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This letter proposes an improved mask cut method for 2-D phase unwrapping. The method is designed to generate thin mask cuts to balance the residues. Network flow ideas are taken to build the strategy of mask cut generation. The predecessor index is recorded for every pixel during searching, and the path from the current residue to its last residue ancestor is traced by the predecessor index information. This path is taken as an optimal path from residue to residue. All the pixels on these paths compose the final mask cuts. The proposed method successfully prevents most of the unnecessary pixels from going into the mask cuts. Comparing with the original mask cut method, experimental results show that the proposed method generates thinner and more accurate mask cuts than that generated by the original method. A significant improvement on the unwrapping result is achieved by the proposed method.