Sparse Gradient Optimization and its Applications in Image Processing

Millions of digital images are captured by imaging devices on a daily basis. The way imaging devices operate follows an integral process from which the information of the original scene needs to be estimated. The estimation is done by inverting the integral process of the imaging device with the use of optimization techniques. This linear inverse problem, the inversion of the integral acquisition process, is at the heart of several image processing applications such as denoising, deblurring, inpainting, and super-resolution. We describe in detail the use of linear inverse problems in these applications. We review and compare several state-of-the-art optimization algorithms that invert this integral process. Linear inverse problems are usually very difficult to solve. Therefore, additional prior assumptions need to be introduced to successfully estimate the output signal. Several priors have been suggested in the research literature, with the Total Variation (TV) being one of the most prominent. In this thesis, we review another prior, the l0 pseudo-norm over the gradient domain. This prior allows full control over how many non-zero gradients are retained to approximate prominent structures of the image. We show the superiority of the l0 gradient prior over the TV prior in recovering genuinely piece-wise constant signals. The l0 gradient prior has shown to produce state-of-the-art results in edge-preserving image smoothing. Moreover, this general prior can be applied to several other applications, such as edge extraction, clip-art JPEG artifact removal, non-photorealistic image rendering, detail magnification, and tone mapping. We review and evaluate several state-of-the-art algorithms that solve the optimization problem based on the l0 gradient prior. Subsequently we apply the l0 gradient prior to two applications where we show superior results as compared to the current state-of-the-art. The first application is that of single-image reflection removal. Existing solutions to this problem have shown limited success because of the highly ill-posed nature of the problem. We show that the standard l0 gradient prior with a modified data-fidelity term based on the Laplacian operator is able to sufficiently remove unwanted reflections from images in many realistic scenarios. We conduct extensive experiments and show that our method outperforms the state-of-the-art. In the second application of haze removal from visible-NIR image pairs we propose a novel optimization framework, where the prior term penalizes the number of non-zero gradients of the difference between the output and the NIR image. Due to the longer wavelengths of NIR, an image taken in the NIR spectrum suffers significantly less from haze artifacts. Using this prior term, we are able to transfer details from the haze-free NIR image to the final result. We show that our formulation provides state-of-the-art results compared to haze removal methods that use a single image and also to those that are based on visible-NIR image pairs.

Süsstrunk, Sabine
Achanta, Radhakrishna
Lausanne, EPFL
Other identifiers:
urn: urn:nbn:ch:bel-epfl-thesis7913-3

 Record created 2017-09-04, last modified 2018-03-17

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