A trained spinglass model for grouping of image primitives.
ABSTRACT A method is presented that uses grouping to improve local classification of image primitives. The grouping process is based upon a spinglass system, where the image primitives are treated as possessing a spin. The system is subject to an energy functional consisting of a local and a bilocal part, allowing interaction between the image primitives. Instead of defining the state of lowest energy as the grouping result, the mean state of the system is taken. In this way, instabilities caused by multiple minima in the energy are being avoided. The means of the spins are taken as the a posteriori probabilities for the grouping result. In the paper, it is shown how the energy functional can be learned from example data. The energy functional is defined in such a way that, in case of no interactions between the elements, the means of the spins equal the a priori local probabilities. The grouping process enables the fusion of the a priori local and bilocal probabilities into the a posteriori probabilities. The method is illustrated both on grouping of line elements in synthetic images and on vessel detection in retinal fundus images.

Conference Paper: Retinal Vessel Extraction by a Combined Neural NetworkWavelet Enhancement Method.
[Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
ABSTRACT: This paper presents a combined approach to automatic extraction of blood vessels in retinal images. The proposed procedure is composed of two phases: a wavelet transformbased preprocessing phase and a NNbased one. Several neural net topologies and training algorithms are considered with the aim of selecting an effective combined method. Human retinal fundus images, derived from the publicly available ophthalmic database DRIVE, are processed to detect retinal vessels. The approach is tested by considering performances in terms of sensitivity and specificity values obtained from vessel classification. The quality of vessel identifications is evaluated on obtained image by computing both sensitivity values and specificity ones and by relating them in ROC curves. A comparison of performances by ROC curve areas for various methods is reported.Emerging Intelligent Computing Technology and Applications. With Aspects of Artificial Intelligence, 5th International Conference on Intelligent Computing, ICIC 2009, Ulsan, South Korea, September 1619, 2009, Proceedings; 01/2009  [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
ABSTRACT: We present an effective algorithm for automatic tracing of vasculature structures and vascular landmark extraction of bifurcations and ending points. In this paper we deal with vascular patterns from digital images for personal identification. Vessel tracing algorithms are of interest in a variety of biometric and medical application such as personal identification, biometrics, and ophthalmic disorders like vessel change detection. However eye surface vasculature tracing has many problems which are subject to improper illumination, glare, fadeout, shadow and artifacts arising from reflection, refraction, and dispersion. The proposed algorithm on vascular tracing employs multistage processing of tenlayers as followings: Image Acquisition, Image Enhancement by gray scale retinal image enhancement, reducing background artifact and illuminations and removing interlacing minute characteristics of vessels, Vascular Structure Extraction by connecting broken vessels, extracting vascular structure using eight directional information, and extracting retinal vascular structure. Vascular Landmark Extraction of bifurcations and ending points. The results of automatic retinal vessel extraction using five different thresholds applied 34 eye images are presented. The results of vasculature tracing algorithm shows that the suggested algorithm can obtain not only robust and accurate vessel tracing but also vascular landmarks according to thresholds.Hybrid Information Technology, International Conference on. 11/2006; 2:161167.  [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
ABSTRACT: Vessel structures such as retinal vasculature are important features for computeraided diagnosis. In this paper, a probabilistic tracking method is proposed to detect blood vessels in retinal images. During the tracking process, vessel edge points are detected iteratively using local grey level statistics and vessel's continuity properties. At a given step, a statistic sampling scheme is adopted to select a number of vessel edge points candidates in a local studying area. Local vessel's sectional intensity profiles are estimated by a Gaussian shaped curve. A Bayesian method with the Maximum a posteriori (MAP) probability criterion is then used to identify local vessel's structure and find out the edge points from these candidates. Evaluation is performed on both simulated vascular and real retinal images. Different geometric shapes and noise levels are used for computer simulated images, whereas real retinal images from the REVIEW database are tested. Evaluation performance is done using the Segmentation Matching Factor (SMF) as a quality parameter. Our approach performed better when comparing it with Sun's and Chaudhuri's methods. ROC curves are also plotted, showing effective detection of retinal blood vessels (true positive rate) with less false detection (false positive rate) than Sun's method.Pattern Recognition 01/2012; 45:12351244. · 2.58 Impact Factor
Page 1
A Trained SpinGlass Model for
Grouping of Image Primitives
Joes Staal, Stiliyan N. Kalitzin, and Max A. Viergever
Abstract—A method is presented that uses grouping to improve local classification of image primitives. The grouping process is based
upon a spinglass system, where the image primitives are treated as possessing a spin. The system is subject to an energy functional
consisting of a local and a bilocal part, allowing interaction between the image primitives. Instead of defining the state of lowest energy
as the grouping result, the mean state of the system is taken. In this way, instabilities caused by multiple minima in the energy are
being avoided. The means of the spins are taken as the a posteriori probabilities for the grouping result. In the paper, it is shown how
the energy functional can be learned from example data. The energy functional is defined in such a way that, in case of no interactions
between the elements, the means of the spins equal the a priori local probabilities. The grouping process enables the fusion of the
a priori local and bilocal probabilities into the a posteriori probabilities. The method is illustrated both on grouping of line elements in
synthetic images and on vessel detection in retinal fundus images.
Index Terms—Statistical pattern recognition, spinglass model, statistical learning, Bayesian grouping.
?
1
A
extraction, object specific measurements, and fast object
rendering from multidimensional image data. Simple seg
mentation techniques based on local pixelneighborhood
classification fail to apprehend the globality of objects and
often require intensive operator assistance to produce
acceptable results. The reason is that the notion of a object
does not necessarily follow the characteristics of its local
image representation; only in idealized cases do local
operations directly yield a definition of an object. Local
properties, such as textures, edgeness, ridgeness, etc.,
generally do not represent connected features of an object.
Therefore, a method is needed that groups pieces of image
primitives into objects. In such a method, the solution of the
segmentation problem will involve the use of domain knowl
edgethatderivesfromtherecognitiontask.Similararguments
have motivated earlier work on modeldriven grouping and
segmentationappliedtorealworldimages[4],[10],[11],[13],
[15], [20], [23], [24], [25], [26], [27], [28], [30].
In our view, the segmentation problem can only be
tackled successfully in conjunction with the recognition
problem. The recognition task provides a notion of the
objects to be defined using the segmentation method; this
allows us to incorporate model knowledge of the objects in
the grouping process, either by predefining properties that
are characteristic of an object or by deriving such properties
by statistical means from example data.
INTRODUCTION
S long as the field of digital image analysis exists,
segmentation has been the bottleneck to achieve object
The grouping process, described in this study, relies on
local and bilocal prior object probabilities that have been
based on the predefined recognition task. In the grouping
process, image primitives interact with each other and,
through these interactions, posterior probabilities for being
part of the object are computed. In this sense, the method is
based on Bayesian statistics.
The proposed method can be regarded as finding the
mean state of a spinglass system subject to the Gibbs
Boltzmanndistribution. The energy functionals that are
needed for such a spinglass system are based on the local
and interaction prior probability densities of the image
primitives. If these densities are not known beforehand,
they can be estimated from example data. In the paper, it is
shown how this can be accomplished using classifiers from
statistical pattern recognition [5].
The idea of grouping image primitives using a spinglass
model was investigated in [11] for the segmentation of
edges. The main differences between their approach and
ours is, firstly, that we use a local part in the energy
functional that does not rely on the interaction probabilities.
Secondly, we use example data to learn the energy
functionals and do not define them in analytical form.
Finally, instead of searching the configuration that max
imizes the posterior probabilities, the mean values of all
possible configurations of the image primitives determine
the posterior probabilities. This is also an important
difference of the proposed method with respect to
Boltzmannmachinelike approaches [1]. And, unlike re
laxation labeling methods, the method does not have to
reevaluate the probabilities of an objective function [17].
Other methods for grouping define affinity matrices
between primitives and try to define a splitting of the
primitives based on eigenanalysis [24], [29] or normalized
cuts [28]. The problem with such methods is that their
foundation is not statistical in nature, so that one has to
incorporate user defined rules in constructing the affinity
1172IEEE TRANSACTIONS ON PATTERN ANALYSIS AND MACHINE INTELLIGENCE,VOL. 27,NO. 7,JULY 2005
. J. Staal and M.A. Viergever are with the Image Sciences Institute,
University Medical Center Utrecht, Heidelberglaan 100, E01.335, 3584
CX Utrecht, The Netherlands. Email: {joes, max}@isi.uu.nl.
. S.N. Kalitzin is with the Dutch Epilepsy Clinics Foundation, Achterweg 5,
2103 SW Heemstede, The Netherlands. Email: skalitzin@sein.nl.
Manuscript received 15 Dec. 2003; revised 27 Sept. 2004; accepted 28 Sept.
2004; published online 12 May 2005.
Recommended for acceptance by Y. Amit.
For information on obtaining reprints of this article, please send email to:
tpami@computer.org, and reference IEEECS Log Number TPAMI04281203.
01628828/05/$20.00 ? 2005 IEEEPublished by the IEEE Computer Society
Page 2
matrices, although, in [27], an attempt has been made to
overcome this shortcoming.
The proposed method is illustrated in two examples:
grouping of line elements in synthetic and realworld
data. In [20], a Markovian approach to this problem is
given. Although the approach is interesting, the connec
tion field and interaction matrices are manually con
structed and it is not clear how they could be learned.
Also, the use of local (noninteracting) knowledge is not
incorporated in this scheme.
The purpose of the present study is to come up with a
general statistical method that improves the local classifica
tion of image primitives by introducing (bilocal) interaction
between them.
The setup of the paper is as follows: In Section 2, the
grouping process is considered as a spinglass system. The
solution of the grouping problem is formulated as finding
the means of the state variables. Section 3 gives an overview
of implementational issues, followed in Section 4 by
illustrations of the approach, both on synthetic and on
realworld images. Concluding remarks and a discussion of
the results are presented in Section 5.
2FORMAL PROBLEM STATEMENT
In this section, the grouping process will be regarded as a
spinglass system. The system is governed by an energy
functional, consisting of a local and a bilocal part. In the
next section, the spinglass formulation will be derived.
Section 2.2 discusses the definitions for the local and bilocal
energies.
2.1
The task is to group K elements ?i out of a set ? ¼
f?1;...;?Ng, which consists of N elements. The number K is
unknown beforehand. The elements can be image pixels,
line elements, image patches, etc. Every element is regarded
as having a spin sithat can be in one of two states: down or
0 and up or 1. If siis up, ?ibelongs to the group (or object);
if it is down, ?ibelongs to the background. It is useful to
introduce the probability of a certain grouping, i.e., a
configuration fsig of the spins, as
PðfsigÞ ¼1
Probabilistic Formulation
Ze??EðfsigÞ:
ð1Þ
Equation (1) is known as the GibbsBoltzmanndistribution.
The constant Z is the partition function, which is the sum
over all configurations of the spins of e??EðfsigÞ. It takes care
that the sum over all configurations of PðfsigÞ equals 1. The
functional EðfsigÞ plays the role of the energy belonging to
a state fsig of the system, whereas ? is a control parameter,
which is equivalent to the inverse temperature of a physical
spin system.
We want to model the spins up to pairwise interaction in
such a way that elements belonging both to the foreground
lower the energy. The energy function that is used to
accomplish this is
EðfsigÞ ¼
X
i
Lisiþ1
2
X
i
X
j
Bijsisj;
ð2Þ
where Liis the value of a local potential function induced
by si and Bij is the value of a bilocal potential function
induced by the pair si and sj. In [9], [11] similar energy
functions are being used.
The bilocal part of the energy can be viewed upon as a
discrete Hopfield network [12] with connections Bij
between the neurons. For the grouping process, it is
important that the elements influence each other, which is
accomplished by Hopfield networks since they exhibit
strong feedbackcoupling.
Many Gibbsbased methods try to minimize the energy
functional in order to obtain a maximum a posteriori (MAP)
estimate from (1). A fast deterministic solution for energy
functionals with binary variables and constant Bijis given
in [9]. A recently published paper [18] investigates what
energy functions can be maximized using graph cuts. The
constraints that the energy functionals must satisfy are not
met in our case. For that reason, we estimate the mean state
of the system governed by (1). Following the terminology of
[19], another loss function is adopted from a Bayesian
theoretic point of view.
The mean hsii of a spin siis given by
hsii ¼
fsjg
X
siPðfsjgÞ;
ð3Þ
where the sum runs over all configurations. Elements with
mean spins close to one are very probable in the group,
whereas those with values close to zero belong to the
background. Once the mean values of the spins are
determined,thegroupedelementscanbeextractedbysetting
athreshold.Foreachelement?i,itsmeanspinplaystheroleof
the a posteriori probability of being part of the object.
The computation of the values of the mean spins can
efficiently be computed using the Metropolis algorithm [21],
which will be discussed in Section 3.1. But first, definitions
for the potential functions will be given.
2.2
For computation of the mean spins, the potentials Liand Bij
need to be known. We want to base the potentials on
properties of the elements ?i. Therefore, it is assumed that
a priori knowledge of every element ?iis available in the
form of a local probability Pi¼ Pðsi¼ 1Þ. Information of
the interaction between a pair of elements ?iand ?jshould
be available in the form of a bilocal probability Pij¼
Pðsi¼ 1jsj¼ 1Þ. A method for the determination of these
a priori probabilities is given in Section 3.2. Since every spin
can only be in one of two states, we have that Pðsi¼ 0Þ ¼
1 ? Pi and, likewise, Pðsi¼ 0jsj¼ 1Þ ¼ 1 ? Pij. Note that
local probabilities have a single index, whereas bilocal
probabilities are doubly indexed.
If there is no interaction between the elements, (2)
reduces to
Definition of the Potentials
EðfsigÞ ¼
X
i
Lisi:
Equation (1), the probability that the system is in state
fsig, equals, in this case,
PðfsigÞ ¼1
Z
Y
i
e??Lisi;
STAAL ET AL.: A TRAINED SPINGLASS MODEL FOR GROUPING OF IMAGE PRIMITIVES1173
Page 3
showing that, without interactions, the classification of the
elements is independent of each other. Because of the
independence, we can consider the whole system as a set of
N systems, each consisting of one spin. The Gibbs
Boltzmanndistribution for the system concerning siis then
given by
PðsiÞ ¼1
Zie??Lisi;
and we find, for the a posteriori probability
hsii ¼0 ? e??Li?0þ 1 ? e??Li?1
Zi
¼1
Zie??Li;
ð4Þ
with Zi¼ 1 þ e??Li, the partition function for the system
corresponding to si.
Without interaction between the elements, the energy
should be defined in such a way that the a posteriori
probability equals the a priori probability, i.e.,
hsii ¼ Pi:
ð5Þ
Substitution of (5) in (4) and solving for Liyields
Li¼ ?1
?loge
Pi
1 ? Pi:
ð6Þ
With the above equation, we have expressed the local
potential function in terms of the a priori local probabilities.
In the absence of bilocal interaction, the system is calibrated
in such a way that it classifies the elements according to
their a priori probabilities.
In analogy with the demand of (5), we would like the
system to be calibrated in such a way that if only a single
pair of sites ?i and ?j have interaction and if there is no
contribution of the local potential, that the a posteriori
conditional probability for si¼ 1 given sj¼ 1 equals the
a priori conditional probability Pij¼ Pðsi¼ 1jsj¼ 1Þ
hsijsj¼ 1i ¼ Pij;
where hsijsj¼ 1i is the a posteriori conditional probability.
Under these conditions, we find that
ð7Þ
hsijsj¼ 1i ¼
1
Zije??Bij;
with Zij¼ 1 þ e??Bij. Note that there are only two states,
viz. si¼ 0 ^ sj¼ 1 and si¼ 1 ^ sj¼ 1. Solving for Bijin the
above equations gives
Bij¼ ?1
?loge
Pij
1 ? Pij:
ð8Þ
In order to derive expressions for Liand Bijin terms of
a priori knowledge, their contributions to the energy
functional have been investigated in isolation. Equation (5)
holds only true when there is no bilocal interaction in the
spin system and (7) is only valid in a twospin system
without a local potential field. When the potentials as
defined in (6) and (8) are combined into (2), the expressions
in (5) and (7) are perturbed (the perturbation may be very
large). In particular, the a posteriori probability in (5)
changes into
hsii ¼ Piþ ?i;
ð9Þ
where the sign and magnitude of ?iresemble the outcome
of the competition between the local and bilocal contribu
tions to the energy.
To get a feeling for how the interactions between the
spins influence the system, we consider the following cases:
If Pij>1
sj¼ 1 is favored by the system since that will lower the
energy. For Pij<1
be preferred since, in that case, the energy is not increased.
An element that has Pi<1
have si¼ 0. However, if one of ?i0s neighbors, say ?j, is a
foreground element and it has strong interaction with ?i,
then, given that sj¼ 1, Bij< 0, which favors si¼ 1. Clearly,
there will be competition between the local and bilocal
contributions to the energy. If the interaction is strong
enough, the neighbor will cause the locally weak element to
become part of the foreground object, i.e., it increases the
mean spin of si. If ?iis a locally strong element, i.e., Pi>1
and it has weak interactions with its neighbors, then this
will encourage the spins of the neighbors to be set to zero
and the mean spin of ?iwill not change with respect to the
local a priori probability Pi.
Note that, with the definitions for the potentials in (6)
and (8), the parameter ? drops out in (1).
2, then Bij< 0 and the selection of both si¼ 1 and
2, putting at least one of the spins to 0 will
2and, thus, Li> 0, would like to
2
3IMPLEMENTATION
In this section, we will start with discussing the Metropolis
algorithm, a method for finding the expected values of the
state variables of a system that is characterized by the Gibbs
Boltzmanndistribution. After this discussion, determina
tion of the a priori probabilities Piand Pijwill be dealt with.
3.1
The Metropolis algorithm [21] is a MonteCarlo method
forcalculatingtheexpected
variablesofasystemthat
GibbsBoltzmanndistribution.
At the start of the algorithm, the system is in a certain
state, quite probably not the equilibrium state. The algo
rithm begins by choosing an element at random and
reverses its spin. The reversal changes the energy of the
system. If the change of energy ?E < 0, the reversal of the
spin is accepted; if ?E > 0 the reversal is accepted with
probability expð???EÞ. The remaining N ? 1 elements are
checked in random order and the system changes its state
with the same rules as before. This procedure is referred to
as a Metropolis step. The Metropolis step is repeated
M times, where M has to be large enough in order to
represent the system’s (thermal) equilibrium.
The mean of the spins is found by
The Metropolis Algorithm
values
subject
ofthe state
theistothe
hsii ¼1
M
X
M
k¼1
siðkÞ;
ð10Þ
where siðkÞ is the value of the spin after the kth Metropolis
step. In the limit M ! 1, (10) converges to the true
expected value.
With the choices for the potentials in this paper,
knowledge of the energy itself is not necessary, only
?Eðsi7! ? s siÞ ¼ ð2? s si? 1ÞðLiþP
jBijsjÞ is needed, where
1174 IEEE TRANSACTIONS ON PATTERN ANALYSIS AND MACHINE INTELLIGENCE,VOL. 27, NO. 7, JULY 2005
Page 4
?Eðsi7! ? s siÞ is the change of the energy due to the spin
reversal of element ?iand ? s si¼ 1 ? si.
3.2Determination of the A Priori Probabilities
The main issue in the implementation of the proposed
method is the determination of the a priori probabilities Pi
and Pij. Once those are known, the potentials from (6) and
(8) can be computed. For the determination of Piand Pij,
two approaches are possible:
1.
Prior information suggests an analytical functional
based on properties of the elements.
The probability densities are estimated from exam
ple data based on properties of the elements.
In this paper, the second option is taken and the
probabilities Pi and Pij have been learned from manually
labeled example data. In the example data, every primitive
?iis given a label “true” (1) or “false” (0), which serves as a
reference. To estimate the local density, a feature vector ?iis
introduced for every element ?iin the example data so that
Pican be estimated as function of the features. The set of ?is
combined with the reference labeling is the local training set.
For the bilocal probabilities, a training set is built
following a similar rationale. Recall that Pij is the condi
tional probability that si¼ 1 given that sj¼ 1. This means
that we train with those ?ifor which the neighbor element ?j
in the local reference set is labeled as “true.” The target in
the bilocal reference set must be set to 1 if ?iis labeled as
“true” in the local reference set and to 0 if it is labeled as
“false.” For every pair ?iand ?jwhich appears in the bilocal
reference set, a vector ijis computed which stores the
interaction features. This enables the estimation of Pij as
function of the features. These vectors, together with the
bilocal reference set, form the bilocal training set.
The training sets are used to train a local and a bilocal
classifier to estimate the probability densities for Piand Pij.
An example of a classifier that is capable to accomplish this
task is a feedforward neural network [3, chapter 6].
Because training feedforward neural networks can be
difficult and many parameters need to be adjusted, we
have chosen to use the kNearestNeighbor (kNN) classifier
for approximating the probability densities. There exist
optimized and fast implementations for kNNclassifiers, see
[2]. The training of a kNNclassifier is extremely simple: all
feature vectors with their corresponding labeling are stored.
The probability P that a feature vector with unknown label
(a query point) has a label equal to 1 is estimated by
inspecting the k closest neighbors of this vector in feature
space. Suppose that n of those neighbors have a label equal
to 1, then [5]
2.
P ¼n
k:
ð11Þ
For determining which feature vectors are closest to the
query point, the Euclidean distance is used in this work.
Because kNNclassifiers are sensitive for scaling between the
different features, each feature is normalized independently
to zero mean and unit variance. The parameters for this
linear transformation are obtained from the training data.
To summarize, by constructing feature sets for the local
and bilocal reference sets, a local and a bilocal kNNclassifier
can be trained. These classifiers enable the estimation of Pi
and Pijfor unlabeled feature sets using (11). The classifiers
can be regarded as “lookup” tables for the local and bilocal
probabilities.
To reduce the number of bilocal probabilities that have to
be learned and to avoid longrange interaction, a neighbor
hood or “clique” can be used, in which element ?i only
interacts with a limited number of other elements. Such a
neighborhood also reduces the number of computations in
the Metropolis algorithm since fewer neighbors have to be
taken into account.
4EXAMPLES
In this section, we will illustrate the proposed method in
two examples. The first example deals with synthetic data
and shows grouping of line elements into a cord. In the
second example, realworld data is used in the detection of
the vasculature in retinal fundus images.
4.1
As a first example, we experiment with cords existing of
line elements. Ten training images of size 400 ? 400 pixels
are generated, which contain 2;020 line elements of which
20 form a cord (an example is shown in Fig. 1). All line
elements have a length of 10:0 ? 1:0 pixels (all distribu
tions to generate the training and test data in this section
are uniform). The orientation of the line elements that
form the background varies between 0 degrees and
360 degrees. The cords have a random orientation ? and
the orientation of their constituting line elements varies
between ? ? 1:8 degrees and ? þ 1:8 degrees.
Only one local feature is taken into account: the mean ?i
of the gray values of the line elements, which is 5:8 ? 4:2 for
background elements and 10:0 ? 0:2 for foreground ele
ments. These values cause some overlap between the
distributions of the local features. With these settings, a
fair number of foreground elements will be selected as
background in local classification.
For the bilocal a priori probabilities, five bilocal features
are computed, with three based on the geometry of the line
elements and two on the local features. The latter two are
the sum and the absolute difference of the ?s of every
considered pair. The geometrical features are a measure for
distance (distance between the closest endpoints), a
Grouping Line Elements into a Cord
STAAL ET AL.: A TRAINED SPINGLASS MODEL FOR GROUPING OF IMAGE PRIMITIVES1175
Fig. 1. Example of a training image. The elements that constitute the
cord are in black, while the background elements are in gray.
Page 5
measure for mutual orientation (inner product between the
unit vectors aligned with the line elements), and an
alignment measure, see Fig. 2. Note that a parallel
displacement of one line element with respect to another
does not change their mutual orientation.
To decrease computational costs and to avoid long range
interaction, only the 10 closest neighbors are taken into
account.
The method is tested with 10 test images that are
constructed in the same way as the training data. The
kNNclassifiers needed to approximate Piand Pijare both
used with k ¼ 11. After classification, a line element is
classified as foreground if the mean of its spin is larger than
0:5 and to background otherwise. A local classification for
one of the images, shown in Fig. 3a, is presented in Fig. 3b.
Notice that about 50 percent of the cord is classified as
background, as is to be expected from the distributions for
the means.
Fig. 3c shows the results after bilocal classification. The
Metropolis algorithm is run 1;000 times. All but one of the
elements of the cord are classified as foreground.
To evaluate the result of the grouping, several measures
have been computed: the number of true positives TP
(elements correctly classified as foreground), the number of
true negatives TN (elements correctly classified as back
ground), the number of false positives FP (elements
incorrectly classified as foreground), and the number of
false negatives (elements incorrectly classified as back
ground). Their values are listed in Table 1. The table shows
clearly that the classification result after grouping increases:
Instead of an error of 55:5 percent in foreground classifica
tion, an error of 12:5 percent is obtained.
Finally, we investigated how much the means of the
spins changed on average after the bilocal classification,
cf. (9). The changes for the elements classified as foreground
show a increase of 0:245 on average for the bilocal a
posteriori probabilities with respect to the local a priori
probabilities. For the background elements no changes are
found.
4.2
In this section, the method is tested on twodimensional
medical images of the retina of the human eye; for an
example, see Fig. 4. These images, also known as fundus
images, are acquired by making photographs of the back of
the eye. The image processing task is to delineate the vessel
structure.
Since image ridges are natural indicators of vessels, we
start our analysis with ridge detection. In the Appendix, a
short overview is given on ridge detection in twodimen
sional gray value images. For a more extensive discussion on
this subject, see [6]. The ridges of Fig. 4 are shown in Fig. 5.
The problem of detecting the vessels in Fig. 4 is thus
reduced to detecting which ridge pixels in Fig. 5 delineate
vessels. It is obvious from the abundance of ridges in Fig. 5
that this representation is still suboptimal.
To improve the representation, the ridge point sets are
fragmented into convex subsets. Each of these convex
subsets represents a line segment. The so obtained set of
line segments is the basic “grouping set” of geometrical
image primitives.
A convex point set is a set of points such that with
every couple of points that belong to the set, all points that
Segmenting Ridges in Retinal Fundus Images
1176IEEE TRANSACTIONS ON PATTERN ANALYSIS AND MACHINE INTELLIGENCE,VOL. 27, NO. 7,JULY 2005
Fig. 2. (a) The shortest distance between the endpoints of two line
elements is taken as the distance d between the elements. Note that
there are four distances between the endpoints of two elements. (b) The
angle between two line elements is characterized by the absolute value
of the inner product of the unit vectors ^ n niand ^ n njthat are aligned with the
line elements. (c) A (symmetric) measure for alignment is found by
looking for the endpoints which are closest to each other and forming a
vector ^ r r of unit length along the line between the two other endpoints.
Note that those endpoints are not necessarily the endpoints with the
longest distance between the two line elements. The alignment measure
is now defined as the mean of the absolute values of the inner product of
^ r r with ^ n niand ^ n nj:1
2ðj^ r r ? ^ n nij þ j^ r r ? ^ n njjÞ.
Fig. 3. (a) Input image. The gray values denote the value of ?i. Dark means higher value. (b) Locally classified image. The gray value of the elements
measure the probability on spin up (darker denotes higher probability, lighter denotes lower probability). (c) As in (b), but now with bilocal interaction
added. Note that the spins of the elements in the cord have become stronger.
Page 6
lie inbetween these two points on the line connecting
them also belong to the set. In more formal terms:
Definition 1. A point set R is convex if for all points x 2 R,
y 2 R, and, for a scalar ? 2 ½0;1?, the point zð?Þ ¼ x? þ
yð1 ? ?Þ 2 R.
A slightly different form of this basic definition is used,
in which the information governed by the directional
information of the ridges is exploited (see the Appendix).
This definition replaces Euclidean convexity by geodesic
convexity. The resulting sets are called affine convex sets.
The mechanism to obtain affine convex sets is a simple
region growing algorithm which compares an already
grouped ridge pixel with ungrouped pixels in a neighbor
hood of radius ?c, where the subscript c stands for
connectivity. The condition on grouping a grouped and a
candidate pixel within the neighborhood is based on
two comparisons:
1.
Is the direction of the ridges on which the pixels are
found similar?
If so, are the pixels on the same ridge or are they on
parallel ridges?
2.
The first question can be checked by taking the scalar
product of the principal eigenvectors of the Hessian matrix
at the location of the ridge pixels. The principal eigenvectors
are perpendicular to the ridges (Appendix). If the orienta
tions are similar, the scalar product will be close to 1. The
second question can be checked by computing the unit
length normalized vector ^ r r between the locations of the
two pixels under consideration and taking the vector
product between this vector and the principal direction of
the grouped ridge pixel. If the pixels are on the same
segment, the vector product will be close to 1. See also Fig. 6
for the construction of the sets.
The following inequalities are checked:
??
^ v vðxg;?Þ ? ^ v vðxu;?Þ
??
xg? xu
??? ?c;
ð12Þ
?? ??? ?o;
??? ?p;
ð13Þ
^ v vðxg;?Þ ^ ^ v v
ð14Þ
STAAL ET AL.: A TRAINED SPINGLASS MODEL FOR GROUPING OF IMAGE PRIMITIVES1177
TABLE 1
Results from the Experiments of Section 4.1
The total number of background elements considered is 20;000 and the
total number of foreground elements 200. The first row shows the true
positives. The second row shows the true negatives. The false positives
and false negatives are given in row three and four, respectively. The
fifth row shows how much the means of the spins of the foreground
elements increase on average because of the grouping (see (9)). The
last row shows the same for the background elements.
Fig. 4. An image of the fundus of the human retina. The field of view is
approximately 540 pixels.
Fig. 5. The ridges (black) of Fig. 4 obtained at scale t ¼ 1:0 pixel2. Note
the large response of the ridge detector with respect to the noise in the
background.
Fig. 6. The dark curved lines are two ridges. The diameter of the disk is
?c. vgis the eigenvector belonging to a grouped pixel and v1and v2are
the eigenvectors of still ungrouped pixels. The vectors r1and r2are unit
vectors pointing from the grouped pixels to the ungrouped pixels. The
pixel that belongs to the same ridge will be added to the group because it
satisfies the conditions in (12), (13), and (14). The pixel on the parallel
ridge does not satisfy condition (14) and will not be grouped.
Page 7
where the subscript g stands for grouped, u for ungrouped,
o for orientation, and p for parallelism. The ?s determine the
measure for similarity. For the other symbols, see Fig. 6.
Using these techniques, the convex sets of the ridges in
Fig. 5 are displayed in Fig. 8a. These convex sets have
been used for local and bilocal classification. For this
purpose, 30 fundus images have been taken for which the
convex sets were computed. The ridges are detected at a
scale t ¼ 1:0 pixel2. For the convex sets, the following
settings are used: ?c¼ 3:0 pixel, ?o¼ 0:98, and ?p¼ 0:98.
This resulted in 106;206 sets, of which, after manual
labeling, 28;501 turned out to be marked as vessel.
The 30 images are divided in a training set of 15 images
and a test set of the remaining 15 images. To approximate Pi
and Pij, local and bilocal features are computed and
kNNclassifiers, using the corresponding training sets, are
built. To avoid long range interactions and to reduce
computational costs, for Pij only, the 10 closest neighbors
are taken into account.
The following local features are computed for every
convex set i:
1.
The mean ?iof the image gray values at the Mipixel
locations of the convex set
?i¼
1
Mi
X
m
Lðxm;i;ym;iÞ;
where L denotes the gray value image and ðxm;i;ym;iÞ
denotes the pixel locations of the ith convex set.
A measure for the width of vessels is computed in
the following way: For every pixel ðxm;i;ym;iÞ in the
convex set, the principal direction ^ v vm;iis known (see
the Appendix and discussion above). The principal
directions are perpendicular to the ridges, i.e.,
perpendicular to the vessels. Onedimensional gray
value profiles centered at ðxm;i;ym;iÞ and in the
direction of ^ v vm;i are extracted from the image. In
every profile, the edges on the left and righthand
side of ðxm;i;ym;iÞ are detected. The distance between
the locations in the profile with strongest edge
response on the left and right side is taken as the
width ?m;i for profile m. The measure wi for the
width is the mean of the widths of all profiles
2.
wi¼
1
Mi
X
m
?m;i:
3.
A measure ?ifor the edge strength in the convex set
is computed as follows: The response of the
strongest edges on the left and right side of the
profiles (see previous item), ?m;i and ?m;i, respec
tively, are averaged, yielding
?i¼
1
Mi
X
m
?m;iþ ?m;i:
4.
The curvature ?iof the convex set, defined as
?i¼
1
Mi? 1
X
Mi?1
m¼1
^ v vm;i? ^ v vm?1;i;
where ^ v vm;iis the principal direction corresponding
to pixel m of the convex set.
And, for the bilocal features between convex sets i and j,
the following measures are taken:
1.
The Euclidean distance between the closest end
points of the sets (see also Fig. 2).
The sum of ?i and ?j (see Item 1 of the local
features).
The absolute difference of ?iand ?j(see Item 1 of the
local features).
The sum of ?iand ?j(see Item 3 of the local features).
The absolute difference of ?iand ?j(see Item 3 of the
local features).
The sum of ?i and ?j (see Item 4 of the local
features).
The absolute difference of ?iand ?j(see Item 4 of the
local features).
The mutual orientation (see also Fig. 2).
The mutual alignment (see also Fig. 2).
The method is evaluated using the test set. All 15 data sets
are classified, both locally and bilocally. The local and bilocal
kNNclassifiers are used with k ¼ 21 and 2;500 Metropolis
steps are taken. The performance of the system is measured
with ROCcurves [22]. An ROCcurve plots the fraction of
convex sets that is falsely classified as vessel against the
fraction that is correctly classified as vessel. The fractions are
determined by setting a threshold on the mean of the spins
and are defined as
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.
7.
8.
9.
true positive fraction ¼ sensitivity ¼
TP
TP þ FN;
TN þ FP:
false positive fraction ¼ 1 ? specificity ¼
FP
The closer an ROCcurve approaches the top left corner,
the better the performance of the system. A single measure
to quantify this behavior is the area under the curve, Az,
which is 1 for a perfect system. A system that makes
random classifications has an ROCcurve that is a straight
line through the origin with slope 1 and Az¼ 0:5.
For the test set, Az¼ 0:851 is found for local classification
and Az¼ 0:881 for bilocal classification. The curves are
plotted in Fig. 7a.
Another measure for evaluation is the accuracy of the
system
accuracy ¼
TN þ TP
TN þ TP þ FP þ FN;
which is also dependent on the value of the threshold value.
Thethresholdforoptimalaccuracycanbeestimatedfromthe
training set with leaveoneout experiments. Every image in
the training set is classified using the 14 other images in the
training set. For various threshold values, the accuracy is
computed and the threshold at which maximum accuracy is
found is used for computing the accuracy of the test set. In
Fig. 7b, the accuracy of the training set as function of the
threshold is given. Maximum accuracy for the local classi
fication is found if hsii is thresholded at 0:5. For the bilocal
classification, this value is 0:95. The accuracies of the test set
at these threshold values are 0:870 for local classification and
1178IEEE TRANSACTIONS ON PATTERN ANALYSIS AND MACHINE INTELLIGENCE,VOL. 27,NO. 7,JULY 2005
Page 8
0:886 for bilocal classification. The points of maximum
accuracy on the ROCcurves are plotted in Fig. 7a. In
Table 2, an overview of all computed measures is given.
An example of the classification results is shown in
Figs. 8c and 8d.
From Table 2, it can be concluded that the foreground
classification has benefited from the grouping method. The
total number of correctly classified vessel sets has increased.
It also causes an increase in the number of correctly
classified background elements, whereas the number of
wrongly classified elements is reduced.
Not only is the number of true positives increased, their
a posteriori probabilities increased on average by 0:138,
which is the purpose of the method. The a posteriori
probabilities of the background elements decreased on
average with 0:016.
In Fig. 9a, the distribution of ?i, see (9), is shown in a
histogram for the foreground elements (the width of the bins
is 0:1). Fig. 9b shows the same for the background elements.
Thedistributionsarecenteredaroundzero,butskewedtothe
right for the foreground elements and to the left for the
background elements. As Fig. 9a shows, 46:5 percent of the
foreground elements have a change of the spins between
?0:05 and 0:05. The area of the bins above ?i¼ 0 shows that
42:1 percent of the elements had an increase of their mean
spin value, while the area of the bins below zero show that
11:4 percent had a decrease of the mean spin value. For the
background elements, 41:5 percent of the mean values
changed only between ?0:05 and 0:05. An increase of the
meanvalueswasfoundfor17:0percent,versusadecreasefor
41:5 percent of the elements.
5DISCUSSION
In this paper, a method is presented for grouping image
primitives based on local and bilocal features. The method
performs well on synthetic data. Compared to local
classification, the number of classification errors is reduced
and the confidence with which the elements are classified is
increased.
In the retinal fundus images, ROCanalysis shows that
bilocal classification is better than local classification. The
area under the curve increases from 0:851 to 0:881. For a
threshold of 0:5 on hsii in the local case and of 0:95 in the
bilocal case, the average increase of the posterior probabil
ities for correctly classified convex sets is 0:138. The number
of true positives and negatives increases, whereas the
number of false positives and negatives decreases as well.
It must be noted that the test on the fundus images is
meant to serve as an illustration. For a genuine evaluation
of the approach on real world images, the characteristic
features of the image at hand must be determined by
performing feature selection on a larger variety of features.
The method itself can be applied to a variety of grouping
and classification problems. In this study, we consider the
grouping of line elements and convex sets, but the grouping
of individual pixels, pixel sets, or other structures can be
studied as well. Of course, in those cases, other types of
features will be needed, but the basis of the algorithm
remains the same. Extension to higher dimensional images
is straightforward. The complexity will remain the same,
OðN2Þ for fully connected bilocal interactions, with N being
the number of elements. It is also possible to include higher
order interactions (trinary, nnary), although for this
extension the complexity will increase as OðNnÞ.
As an alternative for the definition of Bijbased on the
conditional probabilities, the joint probability can be used,
which we will denote by Qij. In that case, by demanding
that hsisji ¼ Qij, the following formula similar to (8) can be
derived
Bij¼ ?1
?loge
3Qij
1 ? Qij:
The factor 3 in the nominator appears because now the
partition function has to take 4 possible configurations into
account: si¼ 0 ^ sj¼ 0, si¼ 1 ^ sj¼ 0, si¼ 0 ^ sj¼ 1, and
si¼ 1 ^ sj¼ 1. For the estimation of Qijwith a classifier, the
training set has to be built by setting the label to “true” if
both elements belong the foreground and to “false”
STAAL ET AL.: A TRAINED SPINGLASS MODEL FOR GROUPING OF IMAGE PRIMITIVES1179
Fig. 7. (a) ROC curves for the local and bilocal classification of retinal fundus images. The area under the curve is 0:851 for the local curve and 0:881
for the bilocal curve. The dots on the ROCcurve are at the location of maximum accuracy. (b) Accuracy of the training set as function of the threshold
value. Maximum accuracy is found at hsii ¼ 0:5 for local classification and at 0:95 for bilocal classification.
Page 9
otherwise. Note that the training set for the joint probabil
ities will consist of more feature vectors than the training set
for the conditional probabilities. This can increase the time
for training and classification.
Experiments we did with the joint probabilities show
similar behavior as with the conditional probabilities. The
performance is better than with local classification only.
However, in our examples, the conditional probabilities
give better results than the joint probabilities. The time to
classify one image increased from about 20 seconds to about
30 seconds (unoptimized code).
With the definitions we have given for Bij, only pairs of
spins which are both in the “on” state contribute to the
energy in (2). This is in accordance with the goal that only
grouped elements should contribute to the energy. Extra
terms like Cijsið1 ? sjÞ could be added to discriminate
between foreground and background, or Dijð1 ? siÞð1 ? sjÞ
for grouping background elements. Here, Cijand Dijare the
bilocal potentials for these cases, respectively. It depends on
the application whether or not such terms make sense.
Finally, a MAPestimation may be obtained by using
simulated annealing methods [1], [8], [16]. In that case, the
factor ??1should be removed from (6) and (8) so that the
Metropolis algorithm becomes dependent on ?. The
Metropolis algorithm is started with a value of ? close to
zero. After the system has come to equilibrium, the value of
? is increased and the Metropolis algorithm is executed
again. This scheme is repeated until ? is so large that the
1180IEEE TRANSACTIONS ON PATTERN ANALYSIS AND MACHINE INTELLIGENCE, VOL. 27,NO. 7,JULY 2005
Fig. 8. (a) The convex sets of the ridges of Fig. 5. Every grouped set has its own color. Note that sets which consist of 1 pixel have been removed.
(b) Manually labeled convex sets for the vessels. (c) Locally classified convex sets. Sets with higher mean spin are shown darker. (d) Bilocally
classified convex sets. Again, darker elements mean higher mean spin.
Page 10
system is forced into a “frozen” configuration (? ! 1).
However, the rate in which ? is allowed to increase makes
this algorithm very slow. Increasing ? faster than allowed
can yield unstable and nonunique results because the
energy may have multiple minima.
APPENDIX
The ridge detection used in this paper is described in full
detail in [14]. Here, a short overview for twodimensional
images is presented.
Ridges and valleys are defined as those points where the
image has anextremum in thedirection of the largest surface
curvature. Mathematically, the points in the image LðxÞ are
searched, with x ¼ ðx1;x2ÞT, where the first derivative of the
luminance in the direction of the largest surface curvature
changes sign.
The direction of largest surface curvature is the
eigenvector ^ v v of the matrix of second order derivatives
of the image which has the largest absolute eigenvalue ?.
This matrix is often referred to as the Hessian matrix. The
first derivative of the image in the direction of ^ v v is found
by projecting the gradient of the image onto it. The sign
of ? determines whether a valley (? > 0) or a ridge
(? < 0) is found.
Because taking derivatives of discrete images is an ill
posed operation, they are taken at a scale t using the
Gaussian scalespace technique (see e.g., [7] and references
therein). The main idea is that the image derivatives can be
taken by convolving the image with derivatives of a
Gaussian
@iLðx;tÞ
@xji
¼
1
2?t
Z
x02I R
2
@ie?kx?x0k2=t
@xji
Lðx0Þdx0;
ð15Þ
where xjis the image coordinate with respect to which the
derivative is taken. Mixed derivatives are computed by
taking mixed derivatives of the Gaussian kernel.
It is now possible to define a scalar field ?ðx;tÞ over the
image that takes value ?1 for valleys, 1 for ridges, and 0
elsewhere as follows:
?ðx;tÞ ¼ ?1
2signð?ðx;tÞÞ
? sign gðxþ?^ v v;tÞ ? ^ v v
where the gradient vector gðx;tÞ is defined as r rLðx;tÞ,
?ðx;tÞ is the largest eigenvalue by absolute value of the
Hessian matrix Hðx;tÞ ¼ r rr rTLðx;tÞ, and ^ v vðx;tÞ is the unit
length normalized eigenvector belonging to that eigenvalue.
In (16), ^ v v is evaluated at ðx;tÞ. The parameter ? is the spatial
accuracy with which the pointsets are detected. In the
continuous case, the limit ? ! 0 is taken but, in the discrete
pixel case, ? ¼ 1:0 pixel is a natural choice.
Fig. 5 shows an example of ridge detection at a fundus
image (only valleys are shown).
ð Þ ? sign gðx??^ v v;tÞ ? ^ v v
ðÞ
jj;
ð16Þ
ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
This work was carried out in the framework of the NWO
research project STWUGN/4496.
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STAAL ET AL.: A TRAINED SPINGLASS MODEL FOR GROUPING OF IMAGE PRIMITIVES 1181
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TABLE 2
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[9]
Joes Staal received the MSc degree in applied
physics at the Technical University of Delft, the
Netherlands, in 1995 and the PhD degree in
medical image processingat the Image Sciences
Institute, University Medical Center Utrecht, the
Netherlands, in 2004. He is currently employed
by TNOTPD, Delft, the Netherlands, as a
research associate at the department of Instru
mentation and Information Systems.
Stiliyan N. Kalitzin graduated in nuclear and
highenergy physics at the University of Sofia,
Bulgaria, in 1981 and received the PhD degree
in theoretical physics in 1988. In 1990, he joined
the University of Utrecht, Institute of Theoretical
Physics, where he continued his work on
supersymmetry and supergravity and got in
volved in research on cellular automata, neural
networks, and biological modelling. In 1992, he
was enrolled as researcher in the Visual
Systems Analysis group with the Academic Medical Center University
Hospital in Amsterdam, where he contributed to the development and
analysis of biological neural network models of the human vision. From
1996 until 1999, he worked in the Image Sciences Institute at the
University Medical Center in Utrecht in the area of multiscale image
analysis, topological structure analysis of images, and perceptual
grouping. Since 1999, he has been with the Dutch Epilepsy Clinics
Foundation (SEIN) as head of the Medical Physics Department. His
current research interests are in the fields of nonlinear system dynamics,
signal and image processing, seizure prediction, closedloop epileptic
seizure control, and largescale neural network modeling of normal and
epileptic brain activity.
Max A. Viergever received the MSc degree in
applied mathematics in 1972 and the DSc
degree with a thesis on cochlear mechanics in
1980, both from the Delft University of Technol
ogy. From 1972 to 1988, he was an assistant/
associate professor of applied mathematics at
this university. Since 1988, he has been a
professor and head of the Department of
Medical Imaging at Utrecht University, where
he became an adjunct professor of physics in
1989 and an adjunct professor of computer science in 1996. Since 1996,
he has been the scientific director of the Image Sciences Institute of the
University Medical Center Utrecht and, since 1998, the director of the
Graduate School for Biomedical Image Sciences (ImagO). He has been
a (co)author of more than 400 refereed scientific articles on biophysics
and medical imaging, guest editor of eight journal issues, (co)author/
editor of 15 books, and has served as supervisor of 60 PhD theses and
100 MSc theses. His research interests comprise all aspects of medical
imaging. He is a board member of IAPR, IPMI, and MICCAI, editor of the
book series Computational Imaging and Vision (Kluwer Academic
Publishers) editorinchief of the IEEE Transactions on Medical Imaging,
editor of the Journal of Mathematical Imaging and Vision, and has acted
as associate editor, guest editor, or editorial board member of nine more
international journals.
. For more information on this or any other computing topic,
please visit our Digital Library at www.computer.org/publications/dlib.
1182 IEEE TRANSACTIONS ON PATTERN ANALYSIS AND MACHINE INTELLIGENCE,VOL. 27, NO. 7,JULY 2005