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Current Trends in Image Quality Perception. Mason Macklem Simon Fraser University. General Outline. Examine current image quality standard need for improvements on current standard Examine common image compression techniques potential quality techniques applicable to each

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current trends in image quality perception

Current Trends in Image Quality Perception

Mason Macklem

Simon Fraser University

general outline
General Outline
  • Examine current image quality standard
    • need for improvements on current standard
  • Examine common image compression techniques
    • potential quality techniques applicable to each
  • Discuss further theoretical and constructive models
image compression model
Image Compression Model
  • Transform an image from one domain into a better domain, in which the imperceptible information contained in the image is easily discarded
  • Goal: more efficient representation
3 ways to improve compression
3 Ways to Improve Compression
  • Better domain: design better image transforms, improve energy compaction
  • Imperceptible: design better perceptual image metric
  • Discarded: design better image quantization methods
current standard mse based
Current Standard: MSE-based
  • Mean-Squared Error (MSE):
  • Root-Mean-Squared Error (RMS):
  • Peak Signal-To-Noise Ratio (PSNR):
mse based metrics
MSE-based metrics
  • Measure image quality locally, ie. pixel-by-pixel area
    • Not representative of what the eye actually sees
  • Returns a single number, intended to represent quality of compressed image
    • Not accurate for cross-image or cross-algorithm comparisons
mse pathologies
MSE pathologies
  • Local (pixel-by-pixel) quality measure
    • does not differentiate between constant (not noticeable) and varying (noticeable) error-types
    • does not take into account local contrast
    • assumes no delay or noise in channel
  • Known result: above error types are treated differently by HVS

Sinusoidal error

Original bird

Constant error


Low contrast

= no masking

High contrast

= masking


Sinusoidal error

(MSE = 12.34)

Image offset 1 pixel

(MSE = 230.7)

Original bird

mse pathology ii fractal compression
MSE Pathology II: Fractal Compression
  • Based on theory of Partitioned Iterated Function Systems (PIFS)
    • uses larger blocks contained in the image to represent smaller blocks
      • represent smaller blocks using displacement vector
      • match larger to smaller to maintain contraction
    • blocks chosen to minimize MSE
    • partly motivated due to promising MSE results
fractal compression model
Divide image into domain and range blocks

Find closest affine transformation for each range image from domain blocks

Set maximum depth, code all unmatched blocks manually (ie. DCT)

Highly computational, dependent on choice of domain and range blocks

Balance computational and quality requirements

fewer blocks checked, lower image quality

slow encoding offset by fast decoding

Fractal Compression Model
Models to improve computational complexity:
    • loosen criteria for “matching” blocks, ie. take first block below a given threshold, take closest block within a given radius
  • Good MSE/PSNR results not reflected in visual appearance of resulting image
    • success of fractal compression dependent more on internal composition of image than on overall model
    • if similar blocks are not present in domain blocks, then dissimilar blocks will be matched
better transforms vision models
Better transforms & vision models
  • Choice of better domain highly dependent on visual criteria
  • Better quality metric impacts the design stage of compression algorithm
    • better assessment of visual quality = more accurate prediction of compression artifacts
    • Fractal Compression model depended on inaccurate quality model (?)
better transforms
Better Transforms
  • Lossless:
    • All information in reconstructed image is identical to original image
    • Eg., BMP, GIF
  • Lossy:
    • Discard information in original image to achieve higher compression rates
    • Strategically discard only imperceptible information
    • Eg. JPEG, TIF, Wavelet compression
  • In network-based applications, more focus is given to lossy transforms
  • Split image into 8x8 blocks
    • Small enough image sections to assume high correlation between adjacent pixels
  • Apply 8x8 DCT transform to each block
    • Shift energy in each block to uppermost entries
  • Quantize, run-length encode
    • Quantization: lossy step, discard information
    • RLE: takes advantage of sparseness of result
jpeg quantization matrices
Divide each entry of the image matrix by the corresponding entry in the quantization matrix

Class of matrices built into JPEG standard

Contained in the JPEG file, with image information

JPEG Quantization Matrices
  • Flexibility with
  • quantization tables (?)
mse pathology iii dct
MSE Pathology III: DCT

Sinusoidal error

(MSE = 12.34)

Original image

DCT-based error

(MSE = 320.6)

jpeg2000 wavelet compression
JPEG2000 & Wavelet Compression
  • New JPEG standard wavelet-based
  • Wavelet compression studied extensively for years
    • JPEG2000 first attempt at standardizing
  • WSQ: used to compress fingerprints for FBI
    • used in place of JPEG, which quickly blurred important information
    • Similar compression ratios to JPEG, but with higher quality
wavelet transform
Wavelet Transform
  • Alternative to Fourier transform
  • Localized in time and frequency
  • No blocking/windowing artifacts
  • Compact support
  • Sums of dilations and translations of (mother) wavelet function
multi resolution analysis
Complete nested sequence of function spaces Vj, with {0} intersection


f(t) is in Vj iff f(2t) is in Vj+1


f(t) is in Vj iff f(t-k) is in Vj (k integer)

Shift-invariant Basis:

V0 has an orthonormal basis (scaling function)

Difference spaces:

Wavelets: basis functions for Wj’s

express function in terms of scaling function and wavelets

Multi-resolution Analysis
dwt filter banks
DWT & Filter Banks
  • DWT: banded matrix, with filter coefficients on diagonals
  • Multiply matrix by input signal
  • Highpass filter: flip coefficients and alternate signs
  • Discard even entries to construct output signal
DWT separates function into averages and details

global and local info

Two filters: highpass and lowpass

lowpass: low frequency (averages)

highpass: high frequency (details)

Highpass filter: decimates constant signal (no detail info)

Lowpass filter: decimates oscillating signal (no global info)

Result: two signals, half length of original

most info in lowpass signal

wavelets and images
Wavelets and Images
  • Bottom-up
    • imperceptible differences separated into details
    • L1 norm applied to 1st quadrant only
  • Top-down
    • 1st quadrant entries give same general image
    • L1 norm applied to detail quadrants
  • Both give similar results as MSE-based methods
picture quality scale pqs
Picture Quality Scale (PQS)
  • Parameterized error measure
    • separate image into different types of error
    • calculate weighted sum, with weights determined by curve-fitting subjective results
  • Five factors:
    • normalized MSE (regular and thresholded)
    • blocking artifacts
    • MSE on correlated errors
    • Errors near high-contrast image-transitions
Each factor has associated error image
  • Designed so that the contributions to the final quality rating can be localized
  • Better idea of location of error in compression assists the algorithm design-time
  • Results equivalent to MSE
  • Miyahara, Kotani & Algazi (JAIST & UCDavis)

(Miyahara, Kotani & Algazi)

lessons from pqs
Lessons from PQS
  • Start with visual system
    • base model on observations of subjects
  • Localize information about error
    • using pictorial distance representation, rather than outputting a number to represent quality
  • Need more than MSE-based measures
    • PQS fails on same pathologies as MSE
fidelity vs quality
Fidelity vs. Quality
  • Image Fidelity:
    • Measured in terms of the “closeness” of an image to an original source, or ideal, image
    • eg. MSE-measures, PQS
  • Image Quality:
    • Measured in terms of a single image’s internal characteristics
    • Depends on the criteria, application-specific
    • eg. Medical Imaging
fidelity based approach
Fidelity-based Approach
  • Modelled by IPO (Eindhoven)
  • Natural image as “conveyer of visual information about natural world”
    • “quality” based on internal properties of image, but only on past experiences of subject
    • eg. “quality” of picture of grass depends on its ability to conform to subject’s expectations of the appearance of grass
ipo model

Very nice theoretically

Clearly-defined notions of quality

Based on theory of cognitive human vision

Flexible for application-specific model


Practical to implement?

Subject-specific definition of quality

Subjects more accurate at determining relative vs. absolute measurement

IPO model