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Durham University

Research & business

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Publication details

Horváth, P., Jermyn, I.H., Kato, Z. & Zerubia, J. (2009). A higher-order active contour model of a `gas of circles' and its application to tree crown extraction. Pattern Recognition 42(5): 699-709.

Author(s) from Durham


We present a model of a ‘gas of circles’: regions in the image domain composed of a unknown number of circles of approximately the same radius. The model has applications to medical, biological, nanotechnological, and remote sensing imaging. The model is constructed using higher-order active contours (HOACs) in order to include non-trivial prior knowledge about region shape without constraining topology. The main theoretical contribution is an analysis of the local minima of the HOAC energy that allows us to guarantee stable circles, fix one of the model parameters, and constrain the rest. We apply the model to tree crown extraction from aerial images of plantations. Numerical experiments both confirm the theoretical analysis and show the empirical importance of the prior shape information.