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Bias in robust estimation caused by discontinuities and multiple structures

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1 Author(s)
Stewart, C.V. ; Dept. of Comput. Sci., Rensselaer Polytech. Inst., Troy, NY, USA

When fitting models to data containing multiple structures, such as when fitting surface patches to data taken from a neighborhood that includes a range discontinuity, robust estimators must tolerate both gross outliers and pseudo outliers. Pseudo outliers are outliers to the structure of interest, but inliers to a different structure. They differ from gross outliers because of their coherence. Such data occurs frequently in computer vision problems, including motion estimation, model fitting, and range data analysis. The focus in this paper is the problem of fitting surfaces near discontinuities in range data. To characterize the performance of least median of the squares, least trimmed squares, M-estimators, Hough transforms, RANSAC, and MINPRAN on this type of data, the “pseudo outlier bias” metric is developed using techniques from the robust statistics literature, and it is used to study the error in robust fits caused by distributions modeling various types of discontinuities. The results show each robust estimator to be biased at small, but substantial, discontinuities. They also show the circumstances under which different estimators are most effective. Most importantly, the results imply present estimators should be used with care, and new estimators should be developed

Published in:

Pattern Analysis and Machine Intelligence, IEEE Transactions on  (Volume:19 ,  Issue: 8 )

Date of Publication:

Aug 1997

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