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A. Vedaldi, S. Soatto. Quick Shift and Kernel Methods for Mode Seeking. European Conference on Computer Vision, 2008.

Proposed in 2008, Quick Shift is a segmentation algorithm based on mode seeking which can also be used to generate superpixels. In general, a mode seeking algorithm starts from a Parzen density estimate $p(x_n)$ for all pixels $x_n \in \{1,\ldots,W\} \times \{1,\ldots,H\}$ (here, $W$ and $H$ are the width and height of the image, respectively) and each pixel is assigned to a mode by following the density $p(x_n)$ upwards, that is in the direction of the gradient. Therefore, Quick Shift may be categorized as gradient ascent method. In particular, Quick Shift pre-computes $p(x_n)$ for all pixels using a Gaussian kernel. In practice, given an image $I$, the distance $d(x_n, x_m)$ used within the Gaussian kernel consists of a color term and a spatial term:

$d(x_n, x_m) = α \| I(x_n)−I(x_m)\|_2 + \|x_n −x_m\|_2$

where $α$ weights the influence of the color term. Subsequently, each pixel $x_n$ gets assigned to the pixel $x_m \in N_R(x_n) = \{x_m : \|x_n −x_m\|_\infty \leq R/2\}$ such that $p(x_m) > p(x_n)$ or is left unassigned. These assignments correspond to the modes, which represent the final superpixels. The algorithm is summarized in algorithm 1.

function quickshift(
        $I$ // Color image.
    for $n = 1$ to $W\cdot H$
        initialize $t(x_n) = 0$
    for $n = 1$ to $W\cdot H$
        // $N_R(x_n)$ is the set of all pixels in the neighborhood of size $N$ around $x_n$.
        calculate $p(x_n) = \sum_{x_m \in N_R(x_n)} \exp\left(\frac{-d(x_n, x_m)}{(2/3)R}\right)$
    for $n = 1$ to $W\cdot H$
        set $t(x_n) = \arg \max_{x_m \in N_R(x_n):p(x_m) > p(x_n)}\{p(x_m)\}$
    // $t$ can be interpreted as forest, where all pixels $x_n$ with $t(x_n) = 0$ are roots.
    derive superpixel segmentation $S$ from $t$
    return $S$
Algorithm 1: The superpixel algorithm Quick Shift.

The original implementation is part of the VLFeat Library. Generated superpixel segmentations can be found in figure 1.

ba_bsd_4_qs ba_bsd_5_qs ba_bsd_6_qs ba_bsd_7_qs ba_bsd_8_qs

Figure 1: Images from the Berkeley Segmentation Dataset [1] oversegmented using Quick Shift.
  • [1] P. Arbeláez, M. Maire, C. Fowlkes, J. Malik. Contour detection and hierarchical image segmentation. Transactions on Pattern Analysis and Machine Intelligence, volume 33, number 5, pages 898–916, 2011.

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