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Mathematical Morphology
The field of mathematical morphology contributes a wide range of operators to image processing, all based around a few simple mathematical concepts from set theory. The operators are particularly useful for the analysis of
binary images
and common usages include edge detection, noise removal, image enhancement and image segmentation.
The two most basic operations in mathematical morphology are
erosion
and
dilation
. Both of these operators take two pieces of data as input: an image to be eroded or dilated, and a
structuring element
(also known as a
kernel
). The two pieces of input data are each treated as representing sets of coordinates in a way that is slightly different for binary and grayscale images.
For a binary image, white pixels are normally taken to represent foreground regions, while black pixels denote background. (Note that in some implementations this convention is reversed, and so it is very important to set up input images with the correct
polarity
for the implementation being used). Then the set of coordinates corresponding to that image is simply the set of two-dimensional Euclidean coordinates of all the foreground pixels in the image, with an origin normally taken in one of the corners so that all coordinates have positive elements.
For a grayscale image, the
intensity value
is taken to represent height above a base plane, so that the grayscale image represents a surface in three-dimensional Euclidean space. Figure 1 shows such a surface. Then the set of coordinates associated with this image surface is simply the set of three-dimensional Euclidean coordinates of all the points within this surface
and also all points below the surface, down to the base plane
. Note that even when we are only considering points with integer coordinates, this is a lot of points, so usually algorithms are employed that do not need to consider all the points.