The reconstruction of curves and surfaces from sparse data is an important task in many applications. In computer vision problems the reconstructed curves and surfaces generally represent some physical property of a real object in a scene. For instance, the sparse data that is collected may represent locations along the boundary between an object and a background. It may be desirable to reconstruct the complete boundary from this sparse data. Since the curves and surfaces represent physical properties, the characteristics of the reconstruction process differs from straight forward fitting of smooth curves and surfaces to a set of data in two important areas. First, since the collected data is represented in an arbitrarily chosen coordinate system, the reconstruction process should be invariant to the choice of the coordinate system (except for the transformation between the two coordinate systems). Secondly, in many reconstruction applications the curve or surface that is being represented may be discontinuous. For example in the object recognition problem if the object is a box there is a discontinuity in the boundary curve at the comer of the box. The reconstruction problem will be cast as an ill-posed inverse problem which must be stabilized using a priori information relative to the constraint formation. Tikhonov regularization is used to form a well posed mathematical problem statement and conditions for an invariant reconstruction are given. In the case where coordinate system invariance is incorporated into the problem, the resulting functional minimization problems are shown to be nonconvex. To form a valid convex approximation to the invariant functional minimization problem a two step algorithm is proposed. The first step forms an approximation to the curve (surface) which is piecewise linear (planar). This approximation is used to estimate curve (surface) characteristics which are then used to form an approximation of the nonconvex functional with a convex functional. Several example applications in computer vision for which the invariant property is important are presented to demonstrate the effectiveness of the algorithms. To incorporate the fact that the curves and surfaces may have discontinuities the minimizing functional is modified. An important property of the resulting functional minimization problems is that convexity is maintained. Therefore, the computational complexity of the resulting algorithms are not significantly increased. Examples are provided to demonstrate the characteristics of the algorithm.
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