Multiple widths yield reliable finite differences

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


A finite difference edge finder in which finite difference is computed at a range of widths, i.e., a range of distances between data points, is introduced. Wide operators report low-amplitude responses more reliably than narrow operators, so if wide operators are used to fill gaps in narrow operator responses, each operator can be restricted to report only statistically reliable responses without losing many real features. This sharply reduces the noise in the final output. Theoretical bounds on spurious responses in the finite difference outputs, given only weak assumptions about the signal and noise, are presented. The expected response of the edge finder to an ideal straight step edge is also analyzed. These performance measures are compared with those of a standard algorithm based on Gaussian smoothing and those of a second algorithm that also considers the spatial structure of noise. The algorithms prove equally good at suppressing noise, but are better able to detect faint or blurred features. These predictions are confirmed by empirical tests on real images.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)412-429
Number of pages18
JournalIEEE transactions on pattern analysis and machine intelligence
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1992
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Software
  • Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition
  • Computational Theory and Mathematics
  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Applied Mathematics


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