, Volume 13, Issue 2, pp 229-251

Region-based strategies for active contour models

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The variational method has been introduced by Kass et al. (1987) in the field of object contour modeling, as an alternative to the more traditional edge detection-edge thinning-edge sorting sequence. since the method is based on a pre-processing of the image to yield an edge map, it shares the limitations of the edge detectors it uses. in this paper, we propose a modified variational scheme for contour modeling, which uses no edge detection step, but local computations instead—only around contour neighborhoods—as well as an “anticipating” strategy that enhances the modeling activity of deformable contour curves. many of the concepts used were originally introduced to study the local structure of discontinuity, in a theoretical and formal statement by leclerc & zucker (1987), but never in a practical situation such as this one. the first part of the paper introduces a region-based energy criterion for active contours, and gives an examination of its implications, as compared to the gradient edge map energy of snakes. then, a simplified optimization scheme is presented, accounting for internal and external energy in separate steps. this leads to a complete treatment, which is described in the last sections of the paper (4 and 5). the optimization technique used here is mostly heuristic, and is thus presented without a formal proof, but is believed to fill a gap between snakes and other useful image representations, such as split-and-merge regions or mixed line-labels image fields.