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Linkage between piecewise constant Mumford-Shah model and ROF model and its virtue in image segmentation

The piecewise constant Mumford-Shah (PCMS) model and the Rudin-Osher-Fatemi (ROF) model are two important variational models in image segmentation and image restoration, respectively. In this paper, we explore a linkage between these models. We prove that for the two-phase segmentation problem a partial minimizer of the PCMS model can be obtained by thresholding the minimizer of the ROF model. A similar linkage is still valid for multiphase segmentation under specific assumptions. Thus it opens a new segmentation paradigm: image segmentation can be done via image restoration plus thresholding. This new paradigm, which circumvents the innate non-convex property of the PCMS model, therefore improves the segmentation performance in both efficiency (much faster than state-of-the-art methods based on PCMS model, particularly when the phase number is high) and effectiveness (producing segmentation results with better quality) due to the flexibility of the ROF model in tackling degraded images, such as noisy images, blurry images or images with information loss. As a by-product of the new paradigm, we derive a novel segmentation method, called thresholded-ROF (T-ROF) method, to illustrate the virtue of managing image segmentation through image restoration techniques. The convergence of the T-ROF method is proved, and elaborate experimental results and comparisons are presented.

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