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Section: Research Program

Estimation of fluid characteristic features from images

The measurement of fluid representative features such as vector fields, potential functions or vorticity maps, enables physicists to have better understanding of experimental or geophysical fluid flows. Such measurements date back to one century and more but became an intensive subject of research since the emergence of correlation techniques [47] to track fluid movements in pairs of images of a particles laden fluid or by the way of clouds photometric pattern identification in meteorological images. In computer vision, the estimation of the projection of the apparent motion of a 3D scene onto the image plane, referred to in the literature as optical-flow, is an intensive subject of researches since the 80's and the seminal work of B. Horn and B. Schunk [57]. Unlike to dense optical flow estimators, the former approach provides techniques that supply only sparse velocity fields. These methods have demonstrated to be robust and to provide accurate measurements for flows seeded with particles. These restrictions and their inherent discrete local nature limit too much their use and prevent any evolutions of these techniques towards the devising of methods supplying physically consistent results and small scale velocity measurements. It does not authorize also the use of scalar images exploited in numerous situations to visualize flows (image showing the diffusion of a scalar such as dye, pollutant, light index refraction, flurocein,...). At the opposite, variational techniques enable in a well-established mathematical framework to estimate spatially continuous velocity fields, which should allow more properly to go towards the measurement of smaller motion scales. As these methods are defined through PDE's systems they allow quite naturally constraints to be included such as kinematic properties or dynamic laws governing the observed fluid flows. Besides, within this framework it is also much easier to define characteristic features estimation procedures on the basis of physically grounded data model that describes the relation linking the observed luminance function and some state variables of the observed flow. The Fluminance group has allowed a substantial progress in this direction with the design of dedicated dense estimation techniques to estimate dense fluid motion fields. See [8] for a detailed review. More recently problems related to scale measurement and uncertainty estimation have been investigated [51]. Dynamically consistent and highly robust techniques have been also proposed for the recovery of surface oceanic streams from satellite images [49].