Applied statistical modeling of three-dimensional natural scene data
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Natural scene statistics (NSS) have played an increasingly important role in both our understanding of the function and evolution of the human vision system, and in the development of modern image processing applications. Because depth/range, i.e., egocentric distance, is arguably the most important thing a visual system must compute (from an evolutionary perspective), the joint statistics between natural image and depth/range information are of particular interest. However, while there exist regular and reliable statistical models of two-dimensional (2D) natural images, there has been little work done on statistical modeling of natural luminance/chrominance and depth/disparity, and of their mutual relationships. One major reason is the dearth of high-quality three-dimensional (3D) image and depth/range database. To facilitate research progress on 3D natural scene statistics, this dissertation first presents a high-quality database of color images and accurately co-registered depth/range maps using an advanced laser range scanner mounted with a high-end digital single-lens reflex camera. By utilizing this high-resolution, high-quality database, this dissertation performs reliable and robust statistical modeling of natural image and depth/disparity information, including new bivariate and spatial oriented correlation models. In particular, these new statistical models capture higher-order dependencies embedded in spatially adjacent bandpass responses projected from natural environments, which have not yet been well understood or explored in literature. To demonstrate the efficacy and effectiveness of the advanced NSS models, this dissertation addresses two challenging, yet very important problems, depth estimation from monocular images and no-reference stereoscopic/3D (S3D) image quality assessment. A Bayesian depth estimation framework is proposed to consider the canonical depth/range patterns in natural scenes, and it forms priors and likelihoods using both univariate and bivariate NSS features. The no-reference S3D image quality index proposed in this dissertation exploits new bivariate and correlation NSS features to quantify different types of stereoscopic distortions. Experimental results show that the proposed framework and index achieve superior performance to state-of-the-art algorithms in both disciplines.