Section: New Results

Geometry of vision and sub-Riemannian geometry: new results

Let us list here our new results in the geometry of vision axis and, more generally, on hypoelliptic diffusion and sub-Riemannian geometry.

  • In [7] we present a new image inpainting algorithm, the Averaging and Hypoelliptic Evolution (AHE) algorithm, inspired by the one presented in [86] and based upon a (semi-discrete) variation of the Citti–Petitot–Sarti model of the primary visual cortex V1. In particular, we focus on reconstructing highly corrupted images (i.e. where more than the 80% of the image is missing).

  • In [6] we deal with a severe ill posed problem, namely the reconstruction process of an image during tomography acquisition with (very) few views. We present different methods that we have been investigated during the past decade. They are based on variational analysis.

  • [13] is the first paper of a series in which we plan to study spectral asymptotics for sub-Riemannian Laplacians and to extend results that are classical in the Riemannian case concerning Weyl measures, quantum limits, quantum ergodicity, quasi-modes, trace formulae. Even if hypoelliptic operators have been well studied from the point of view of PDEs, global geometrical and dynamical aspects have not been the subject of much attention. As we will see, already in the simplest case, the statements of the results in the sub-Riemannian setting are quite different from those in the Riemannian one. Let us consider a sub-Riemannian (sR) metric on a closed three-dimensional manifold with an oriented contact distribution. There exists a privileged choice of the contact form, with an associated Reeb vector field and a canonical volume form that coincides with the Popp measure. We establish a Quantum Ergodicity (QE) theorem for the eigenfunctions of any associated sR Laplacian under the assumption that the Reeb flow is ergodic. The limit measure is given by the normalized Popp measure.This is the first time that such a result is established for a hypoelliptic operator, whereas the usual Shnirelman theorem yields QE for the Laplace-Beltrami operator on a closed Riemannian manifold with ergodic geodesic flow. To prove our theorem, we first establish a microlocal Weyl law, which allows us to identify the limit measure and to prove the microlocal concentration of the eigenfunctions on the characteristic manifold of the sR Laplacian. Then, we derive a Birkhoff normal form along this characteristic manifold, thus showing that, in some sense, all 3D contact structures are microlocally equivalent. The quantum version of this normal form provides a useful microlocal factorization of the sR Laplacian. Using the normal form, the factorization and the ergodicity assumption, we finally establish a variance estimate, from which QE follows. We also obtain a second result, which is valid without any ergodicity assumption: every Quantum Limit (QL) can be decomposed in a sum of two mutually singular measures: the first measure is supported on the unit cotangent bundle and is invariant under the sR geodesic flow, and the second measure is supported on the characteristic manifold of the sR Laplacian and is invariant under the lift of the Reeb flow. Moreover, we prove that the first measure is zero for most QLs.

  • In [22] we study the validity of the Whitney C1 extension property for horizontal curves in sub-Riemannian manifolds endowed with 1-jets that satisfy a first-order Taylor expansion compatibility condition. We first consider the equiregular case, where we show that the extension property holds true whenever a suitable non-singularity property holds for the input-output maps on the Carnot groups obtained by nilpotent approximation. We then discuss the case of sub-Riemannian manifolds with singular points and we show that all step-2 manifolds satisfy the C1 extension property. We conclude by showing that the C1 extension property implies a Lusin-like approximation theorem for horizontal curves on sub-Riemannian manifolds.

  • In [34] we prove the C1 regularity for a class of abnormal length-minimizers in rank 2 sub-Riemannian structures. As a consequence of our result, all length-minimizers for rank 2 sub-Riemannian structures of step up to 4 are of class C1.

  • In [45] we address the double bubble problem for the anisotropic Grushin perimeter Pα, α0, and the Lebesgue measure in 2, in the case of two equal volumes. We assume that the contact interface between the bubbles lays on either the vertical or the horizontal axis. Since no regularity theory is available in this setting, in both cases we first prove existence of minimizers via the direct method by symmetrization arguments and then characterize them in terms of the given area by first variation techniques. Angles at which minimal boundaries intersect satisfy the standard 120-degree rule up to a suitable change of coordinates. While for α=0 the Grushin perimeter reduces to the Euclidean one and both minimizers coincide with the symmetric double bubble found in [104], for α=1 vertical interface minimizers have Grushin perimeter strictly greater than horizontal interface minimizers. As the latter ones are obtained by translating and dilating the Grushin isoperimetric set found in [131], we conjecture that they solve the double bubble problem with no assumptions on the contact interface.

  • In [51] we study the notion of geodesic curvature of smooth horizontal curves parametrized by arc-length in the Heisenberg group, that is the simplest sub-Riemannian structure. Our goal is to give a metric interpretation of this notion of geodesic curvature as the first corrective term in the Taylor expansion of the distance between two close points of the curve.

We would also like to mention the defense of the PhD thesis of Ludovic Saccchelli [3] on the subject.