Level Sets and Distance Functions

  • José Gomes
  • Olivier Faugeras
Conference paper
Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNCS, volume 1842)


This paper is concerned with the simulation of the Partial Differential Equation (PDE) driven evolution of a closed surface by means of an implicit representation. In most applications, the natural choice for the implicit representation is the signed distance function to the closed surface. Osher and Sethian propose to evolve the distance function with a Hamilton-Jacobi equation. Unfortunately the solution to this equation is not a distance function. As a consequence, the practical application of the level set method is plagued with such questions as when do we have to “reinitialize” the distance function? How do we “reinitialize” the distance function? Etc... which reveal a disagreement between the theory and its implementation. This paper proposes an alternative to the use of Hamilton-Jacobi equations which eliminates this contradiction: in our method the implicit representation always remains a distance function by construction, and the implementation does not differ from the theory anymore. This is achieved through the introduction of a new equation. Besides its theoretical advantages, the proposed method also has several practical advantages which we demonstrate in three applications: (i) the segmentation of the human cortex surfaces from MRI images using two coupled surfaces [27], (ii) the construction of a hierarchy of Euclidean skeletons of a 3D surface, (iii) the reconstruction of the surface of 3D objects through stereo [13].


Distance Function Coupling Term Implicit Representation Active Contour Model Signed Distance Function 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2000

Authors and Affiliations

  • José Gomes
    • 1
  • Olivier Faugeras
    • 1
  1. 1.I.N.R.I.ASophia AntipolisFrance

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