GPU optimization of the 3D Scale-invariant Feature Transform Algorithm and a Novel BRIEF-inspired 3D Fast Descriptor

This work details a highly efficient implementation of the 3D scale-invariant feature transform (SIFT) algorithm, for the purpose of machine learning from large sets of volumetric medical image data. The primary operations of the 3D SIFT code are implemented on a graphics processing unit (GPU), including convolution, sub-sampling, and 4D peak detection from scale-space pyramids. The performance improvements are quantified in keypoint detection and image-to-image matching experiments, using 3D MRI human brain volumes of different people. Computationally efficient 3D keypoint descriptors are proposed based on the Binary Robust Independent Elementary Feature (BRIEF) code, including a novel descriptor we call Ranked Robust Independent Elementary Features (RRIEF), and compared to the original 3D SIFT-Rank method\citep{toews2013efficient}. The GPU implementation affords a speedup of approximately 7X beyond an optimised CPU implementation, where computation time is reduced from 1.4 seconds to 0.2 seconds for 3D volumes of size (145, 174, 145) voxels with approximately 3000 keypoints. Notable speedups include the convolution operation (20X), 4D peak detection (3X), sub-sampling (3X), and difference-of-Gaussian pyramid construction (2X). Efficient descriptors offer a speedup of 2X and a memory savings of 6X compared to standard SIFT-Rank descriptors, at a cost of reduced numbers of keypoint correspondences, revealing a trade-off between computational efficiency and algorithmic performance. The speedups gained by our implementation will allow for a more efficient analysis on larger data sets. Our optimized GPU implementation of the 3D SIFT-Rank extractor is available at

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