Section: Scientific Foundations

Probabilistic approaches

Following a Bayesian methodology as far as possible, probabilistic models are used within the Ariana project-team, as elsewhere, for two purposes: to describe the class of images to be expected from any given scene, and to describe prior knowledge about the scene in the absence of the current data. The models used fall into the following three classes.

Markov random fields

Markov random fields were introduced to image processing in the Eighties, and were quickly applied to the full range of inverse problems in computer vision. They owe their popularity to their flexible and intuitive nature, which makes them an ideal modelling tool, and to the existence of standard and easy-to-implement algorithms for their solution. In the Ariana project-team, attention is focused on their use in image modelling, in particular of textures; on the development of improved prior models for segmentation; and on the lightening of the heavy computational load traditionally associated with these techniques, in particular via the study of varieties of hierarchical random fields.


The development of wavelets as an alternative to the pixel and Fourier bases has had a big impact on image processing due to their spatial and frequency localization, and the sparse nature of many types of image data when expressed in these bases. In particular, wavelet bases have opened up many possibilities for probabilistic modelling due to the existence of not one but two natural correlation structures, intra- and inter-scale, leading to adaptive wavelet packet models and tree models respectively. In Ariana, attention is focused on the use of tree models for denoising and deconvolution; adaptive wavelet packet models for texture description; and on the use of complex wavelets for their improved translation invariance and directional selectivity.

Stochastic geometry

One of the grand challenges of computer vision and image processing is the expression and use of prior geometric information. For satellite and aerial imagery, this problem has become increasingly important as the increasing resolution of the data results in the necessity to model geometric structures hitherto invisible. One of the most promising approaches to the inclusion of this type of information is stochastic geometry, which is a new and important line of research in the Ariana project-team. Instead of defining probabilities for different types of image, probabilities are defined for configurations of an indeterminate number of interacting, parameterized objects located in the image. Such probability distribution are called `marked point processes'. For instance, two examples that have been developed in Ariana use interacting cuboids of varying length, width, height and orientation for modelling buildings; and interacting line segments of varying length and orientation for modelling road and other networks.