Physics-driven variational methods for computer vision and shape-based imaging
Mueller, Martin F.
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In this dissertation, novel variational optical-flow and active-contour methods are investigated to address challenging problems in computer vision and shape-based imaging. Starting from traditional applications of these methods in computer vision, such as object segmentation, tracking, and detection, this research subsequently applies similar active contour techniques to the realm of shape-based imaging, which is an image reconstruction technique estimating object shapes directly from physical wave measurements. In particular, the first and second part of this thesis deal with the following two physically inspired computer vision applications. Optical Flow for Vision-Based Flame Detection: Fire motion is estimated using optimal mass transport optical flow, whose motion model is inspired by the physical law of mass conservation, a governing equation for fire dynamics. The estimated motion fields are used to first detect candidate regions characterized by high motion activity, which are then tracked over time using active contours. To classify candidate regions, a neural net is trained on a set of novel motion features, which are extracted from optical flow fields of candidate regions. Coupled Photo-Geometric Object Features: Active contour models for segmentation in thermal videos are presented, which generalize the well-known Mumford-Shah functional. The diffusive nature of heat processes in thermal imagery motivates the use of Mumford-Shah-type smooth approximations for the image radiance. Mumford-Shah's isotropic smoothness constraint is generalized to anisotropic diffusion in this dissertation, where the image gradient is decomposed into components parallel and perpendicular to level set curves describing the object's boundary contour. In a limiting case, this anisotropic Mumford-Shah segmentation energy yields a one-dimensional ``photo-geometric'' representation of an object which is invariant to translation, rotation and scale. These properties allow the photo-geometric object representation to be efficiently used as a radiance feature; a recognition-segmentation active contour energy, whose shape and radiance follow a training model obtained by principal component analysis of a training set's shape and radiance features, is finally applied to tracking problems in thermal imagery. The third part of this thesis investigates a physics-driven active contour approach for shape-based imaging. Adjoint Active Contours for Shape-Based Imaging: The goal of this research is to estimate both location and shape of buried objects from surface measurements of waves scattered from the object. These objects' shapes are described by active contours: A misfit energy quantifying the discrepancy between measured and simulated wave amplitudes is minimized with respect to object shape using the adjoint state method. The minimizing active contour evolution requires numerical forward scattering solutions, which are obtained by way of the method of fundamental solutions, a meshfree collocation method. In combination with active contours being implemented as level sets, one obtains a completely meshfree algorithm; a considerable advantage over previous work in this field. With future applications in medical and geophysical imaging in mind, the method is formulated for acoustic and elastodynamic wave processes in the frequency domain.