Shape from Contour

Unknown author (1980-11-01)

The problem of using image contours to infer the shapes and orientations of surfaces is treated as a problem of statistical estimation. The basis for solving this problem lies in an understanding of the geometry of contour formation, coupled with simple statistical models of the contour generating process. This approach is first applied to the special case of surfaces known to be planar. The distortion of contour shape imposed by projection is treated as a signal to be estimated, and variations of non-projective origin are treated as noise. The resulting method is then extended to the estimation of curved surfaces, and applied successfully to natural images. Next, the geometric treatment is further extended by relating countour curvature to surface curvature, using cast shadows as a model for contour generation. This geometric relation, combined with a statistical model, provides a measure of goodness-of-fit between a surface and an image contour. The goodness-of-fit measure is applied to the problem of establishing registration between an image and a surface model. Finally, the statistical estimation strategy is experimentally compared to human perception of orientation: human observers' judgements of tilt correspond closely to the estimates produced by the planar strategy.