Quasi-Linear Algorithms for the Topological Watershed


DOI: 10.1007/s10851-005-4892-4

Cite this article as:
Couprie, M., Najman, L. & Bertrand, G. J Math Imaging Vis (2005) 22: 231. doi:10.1007/s10851-005-4892-4


The watershed transformation is an efficient tool for segmenting grayscale images. An original approach to the watershed (Bertrand, Journal of Mathematical Imaging and Vision, Vol. 22, Nos. 2/3, pp. 217–230, 2005.; Couprie and Bertrand, Proc. SPIE Vision Geometry VI, Vol. 3168, pp. 136–146, 1997.) consists in modifying the original image by lowering some points while preserving some topological properties, namely, the connectivity of each lower cross-section. Such a transformation (and its result) is called a W-thinning, a topological watershed being an “ultimate” W-thinning. In this paper, we study algorithms to compute topological watersheds. We propose and prove a characterization of the points that can be lowered during a W-thinning, which may be checked locally and efficiently implemented thanks to a data structure called component tree. We introduce the notion of M-watershed of an image F, which is a W-thinning of F in which the minima cannot be extended anymore without changing the connectivity of the lower cross-sections. The set of points in an M-watershed of F which do not belong to any regional minimum corresponds to a binary watershed of F. We propose quasi-linear algorithms for computing M-watersheds and topological watersheds. These algorithms are proved to give correct results with respect to the definitions, and their time complexity is analyzed.


discrete topology mathematical morphology watershed component tree segmentation 

Copyright information

© Springer Science + Business Media, Inc. 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Laboratoire A2SIGroupe ESIEE BP99Noisy-le-Grand CedexFrance
  2. 2.IGMUnité Mixte de Recherche CNRS-UMLV-ESIEE UMR 8049France

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