Image Denoising: The Deep Learning Revolution and Beyond -- A Survey Paper --

9 Jan 2023  ·  Michael Elad, Bahjat Kawar, Gregory Vaksman ·

Image denoising (removal of additive white Gaussian noise from an image) is one of the oldest and most studied problems in image processing. An extensive work over several decades has led to thousands of papers on this subject, and to many well-performing algorithms for this task. Indeed, 10 years ago, these achievements have led some researchers to suspect that "Denoising is Dead", in the sense that all that can be achieved in this domain has already been obtained. However, this turned out to be far from the truth, with the penetration of deep learning (DL) into image processing. The era of DL brought a revolution to image denoising, both by taking the lead in today's ability for noise removal in images, and by broadening the scope of denoising problems being treated. Our paper starts by describing this evolution, highlighting in particular the tension and synergy that exist between classical approaches and modern DL-based alternatives in design of image denoisers. The recent transitions in the field of image denoising go far beyond the ability to design better denoisers. In the 2nd part of this paper we focus on recently discovered abilities and prospects of image denoisers. We expose the possibility of using denoisers to serve other problems, such as regularizing general inverse problems and serving as the prime engine in diffusion-based image synthesis. We also unveil the idea that denoising and other inverse problems might not have a unique solution as common algorithms would have us believe. Instead, we describe constructive ways to produce randomized and diverse high quality results for inverse problems, all fueled by the progress that DL brought to image denoising. This survey paper aims to provide a broad view of the history of image denoising and closely related topics. Our aim is to give a better context to recent discoveries, and to the influence of DL in our domain.

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