Candidate: Hiroshi Ishikawa
Advisor: Davi Geiger

Global Optimization Using Embedded Graphs

1:00 p.m., Tuesday, May 2, 2000
719 Broadway 12th floor conference room


One of the challenges of computer vision is that the information we seek to extract from images is not even defined for most images. Because of this, we cannot hope to find a simple process that produces the information directly from a given image. Instead, we need a search, or an optimization, in the space of parameters that we are trying to estimate.

In this thesis, I introduce two new optimization methods that use graph algorithms. They are characterized by their ability to find a global optimum efficiently. Each method defines a graph that can be seen as embedded in a Euclidean space. Graph- theoretic entities such as cuts and cycles represent geometric objects that embody the information we seek.

The first method finds a hypersurface in a Euclidean space that minimizes a certain kind of energy functional. The hypersurface is approximated by a cut of an embedded graph so that the total cost of the cut corresponds to the energy. A globally optimal solution is found by using a minimum cut algorithm. In particular, it can globally solve first order Markov Random Field problems in more generality than was previously possible. I prove that the convexity of the smoothing function in the energy is essential for the applicability of the method and provide an exact criterion in terms of the MRF energy.

The second method proposed here efficiently finds an optimal cycle in a Euclidean space. It uses a minimum ratio cycle algorithm to find a cycle with minimum energy in an embedded graph. In the case of two dimensions, the energy can depend not only on the cycle itself but also on the region defined by the cycle. Because of this, the method unifies the two competing views of boundary and region segmentation.

I demonstrate the utility of the methods in applications, with the results of experiments in the areas of binocular stereo, image restoration, and image segmentation. The image segmentation, or contour extraction, experiments are carried out in various situations using different types of information, for example motion, stereo, and intensity.