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<p><b>Abstract</b>—This paper describes an image segmentation technique in which an arbitrarily shaped contour was deformed stochastically until it fitted around an object of interest. The evolution of the contour was controlled by a simulated annealing process which caused the contour to settle into the global minimum of an image-derived "energy" function. The nonparametric energy function was derived from the statistical properties of previously segmented images, thereby incorporating prior experience. Since the method was based on a state space search for the contour with the best global properties, it was stable in the presence of image errors which confound segmentation techniques based on local criteria, such as connectivity. Unlike "snakes" and other active contour approaches, the new method could handle arbitrarily irregular contours in which each interpixel crack represented an independent degree of freedom. Furthermore, since the contour evolved toward the global minimum of the energy, the method was more suitable for fully automatic applications than the snake algorithm, which frequently has to be reinitialized when the contour becomes trapped in local energy minima. High computational complexity was avoided by efficiently introducing a random local perturbation in a time independent of contour length, providing control over the size of the perturbation, and assuring that resulting shape changes were unbiased. The method was illustrated by using it to find the brain surface in magnetic resonance head images and to track blood vessels in angiograms. Additional information is available from</p>
Image segmentation, image processing, edge detection, active contours, simulated annealing, optimization, state space search.

D. N. Levin and R. P. Grzeszczuk, ""Brownian Strings": Segmenting Images with Stochastically Deformable Contours," in IEEE Transactions on Pattern Analysis & Machine Intelligence, vol. 19, no. , pp. 1100-1114, 1997.
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