Research Papers On Edge Detection Python


In this chapter, we will learn about

  • Concept of Canny edge detection
  • OpenCV functions for that : cv2.Canny()


Canny Edge Detection is a popular edge detection algorithm. It was developed by John F. Canny in 1986. It is a multi-stage algorithm and we will go through each stages.

  1. Noise Reduction

Since edge detection is susceptible to noise in the image, first step is to remove the noise in the image with a 5x5 Gaussian filter. We have already seen this in previous chapters.

  1. Finding Intensity Gradient of the Image

Smoothened image is then filtered with a Sobel kernel in both horizontal and vertical direction to get first derivative in horizontal direction () and vertical direction (). From these two images, we can find edge gradient and direction for each pixel as follows:

Gradient direction is always perpendicular to edges. It is rounded to one of four angles representing vertical, horizontal and two diagonal directions.

  1. Non-maximum Suppression

After getting gradient magnitude and direction, a full scan of image is done to remove any unwanted pixels which may not constitute the edge. For this, at every pixel, pixel is checked if it is a local maximum in its neighborhood in the direction of gradient. Check the image below:

Point A is on the edge ( in vertical direction). Gradient direction is normal to the edge. Point B and C are in gradient directions. So point A is checked with point B and C to see if it forms a local maximum. If so, it is considered for next stage, otherwise, it is suppressed ( put to zero).

In short, the result you get is a binary image with “thin edges”.

  1. Hysteresis Thresholding

This stage decides which are all edges are really edges and which are not. For this, we need two threshold values, minVal and maxVal. Any edges with intensity gradient more than maxVal are sure to be edges and those below minVal are sure to be non-edges, so discarded. Those who lie between these two thresholds are classified edges or non-edges based on their connectivity. If they are connected to “sure-edge” pixels, they are considered to be part of edges. Otherwise, they are also discarded. See the image below:

The edge A is above the maxVal, so considered as “sure-edge”. Although edge C is below maxVal, it is connected to edge A, so that also considered as valid edge and we get that full curve. But edge B, although it is above minVal and is in same region as that of edge C, it is not connected to any “sure-edge”, so that is discarded. So it is very important that we have to select minVal and maxVal accordingly to get the correct result.

This stage also removes small pixels noises on the assumption that edges are long lines.

So what we finally get is strong edges in the image.

Canny Edge Detection in OpenCV¶

OpenCV puts all the above in single function, cv2.Canny(). We will see how to use it. First argument is our input image. Second and third arguments are our minVal and maxVal respectively. Third argument is aperture_size. It is the size of Sobel kernel used for find image gradients. By default it is 3. Last argument is L2gradient which specifies the equation for finding gradient magnitude. If it is , it uses the equation mentioned above which is more accurate, otherwise it uses this function: . By default, it is .

See the result below:

importcv2importnumpyasnpfrommatplotlibimportpyplotaspltimg=cv2.imread('messi5.jpg',0)edges=cv2.Canny(img,100,200)plt.subplot(121),plt.imshow(img,cmap='gray')plt.title('Original Image'),plt.xticks([]),plt.yticks([])plt.subplot(122),plt.imshow(edges,cmap='gray')plt.title('Edge Image'),plt.xticks([]),plt.yticks([])


  1. Write a small application to find the Canny edge detection whose threshold values can be varied using two trackbars. This way, you can understand the effect of threshold values.


GrabCut algorithm was designed by Carsten Rother, Vladimir Kolmogorov & Andrew Blake from Microsoft Research Cambridge, UK. in their paper, “GrabCut”: interactive foreground extraction using iterated graph cuts . An algorithm was needed for foreground extraction with minimal user interaction, and the result was GrabCut.

How it works from user point of view ? Initially user draws a rectangle around the foreground region (foreground region shoule be completely inside the rectangle). Then algorithm segments it iteratively to get the best result. Done. But in some cases, the segmentation won’t be fine, like, it may have marked some foreground region as background and vice versa. In that case, user need to do fine touch-ups. Just give some strokes on the images where some faulty results are there. Strokes basically says “Hey, this region should be foreground, you marked it background, correct it in next iteration” or its opposite for background. Then in the next iteration, you get better results.

See the image below. First player and football is enclosed in a blue rectangle. Then some final touchups with white strokes (denoting foreground) and black strokes (denoting background) is made. And we get a nice result.

So what happens in background ?

  • User inputs the rectangle. Everything outside this rectangle will be taken as sure background (That is the reason it is mentioned before that your rectangle should include all the objects). Everything inside rectangle is unknown. Similarly any user input specifying foreground and background are considered as hard-labelling which means they won’t change in the process.
  • Computer does an initial labelling depeding on the data we gave. It labels the foreground and background pixels (or it hard-labels)
  • Now a Gaussian Mixture Model(GMM) is used to model the foreground and background.
  • Depending on the data we gave, GMM learns and create new pixel distribution. That is, the unknown pixels are labelled either probable foreground or probable background depending on its relation with the other hard-labelled pixels in terms of color statistics (It is just like clustering).
  • A graph is built from this pixel distribution. Nodes in the graphs are pixels. Additional two nodes are added, Source node and Sink node. Every foreground pixel is connected to Source node and every background pixel is connected to Sink node.
  • The weights of edges connecting pixels to source node/end node are defined by the probability of a pixel being foreground/background. The weights between the pixels are defined by the edge information or pixel similarity. If there is a large difference in pixel color, the edge between them will get a low weight.
  • Then a mincut algorithm is used to segment the graph. It cuts the graph into two separating source node and sink node with minimum cost function. The cost function is the sum of all weights of the edges that are cut. After the cut, all the pixels connected to Source node become foreground and those connected to Sink node become background.
  • The process is continued until the classification converges.

It is illustrated in below image (Image Courtesy:


Now we go for grabcut algorithm with OpenCV. OpenCV has the function, cv2.grabCut() for this. We will see its arguments first:

  • img - Input image
  • mask - It is a mask image where we specify which areas are background, foreground or probable background/foreground etc. It is done by the following flags, cv2.GC_BGD, cv2.GC_FGD, cv2.GC_PR_BGD, cv2.GC_PR_FGD, or simply pass 0,1,2,3 to image.
  • rect - It is the coordinates of a rectangle which includes the foreground object in the format (x,y,w,h)
  • bdgModel, fgdModel - These are arrays used by the algorithm internally. You just create two np.float64 type zero arrays of size (1,65).
  • iterCount - Number of iterations the algorithm should run.
  • mode - It should be cv2.GC_INIT_WITH_RECT or cv2.GC_INIT_WITH_MASK or combined which decides whether we are drawing rectangle or final touchup strokes.

First let’s see with rectangular mode. We load the image, create a similar mask image. We create fgdModel and bgdModel. We give the rectangle parameters. It’s all straight-forward. Let the algorithm run for 5 iterations. Mode should be cv2.GC_INIT_WITH_RECT since we are using rectangle. Then run the grabcut. It modifies the mask image. In the new mask image, pixels will be marked with four flags denoting background/foreground as specified above. So we modify the mask such that all 0-pixels and 2-pixels are put to 0 (ie background) and all 1-pixels and 3-pixels are put to 1(ie foreground pixels). Now our final mask is ready. Just multiply it with input image to get the segmented image.

See the results below:

Oops, Messi’s hair is gone. Who likes Messi without his hair? We need to bring it back. So we will give there a fine touchup with 1-pixel (sure foreground). At the same time, Some part of ground has come to picture which we don’t want, and also some logo. We need to remove them. There we give some 0-pixel touchup (sure background). So we modify our resulting mask in previous case as we told now.

What I actually did is that, I opened input image in paint application and added another layer to the image. Using brush tool in the paint, I marked missed foreground (hair, shoes, ball etc) with white and unwanted background (like logo, ground etc) with black on this new layer. Then filled remaining background with gray. Then loaded that mask image in OpenCV, edited original mask image we got with corresponding values in newly added mask image. Check the code below:

See the result below:

So that’s it. Here instead of initializing in rect mode, you can directly go into mask mode. Just mark the rectangle area in mask image with 2-pixel or 3-pixel (probable background/foreground). Then mark our sure_foreground with 1-pixel as we did in second example. Then directly apply the grabCut function with mask mode.

# newmask is the mask image I manually labellednewmask=cv2.imread('newmask.png',0)# whereever it is marked white (sure foreground), change mask=1# whereever it is marked black (sure background), change mask=0mask[newmask==0]=0mask[newmask==255]=1mask,bgdModel,fgdModel=cv2.grabCut(img,mask,None,bgdModel,fgdModel,5,cv2.GC_INIT_WITH_MASK)mask=np.where((mask==2)|(mask==0),0,1).astype('uint8')img=img*mask[:,:,np.newaxis]plt.imshow(img),plt.colorbar(),


  1. OpenCV samples contain a sample which is an interactive tool using grabcut. Check it. Also watch this youtube video on how to use it.
  2. Here, you can make this into a interactive sample with drawing rectangle and strokes with mouse, create trackbar to adjust stroke width etc.
Categories: 1

0 Replies to “Research Papers On Edge Detection Python”

Leave a comment

L'indirizzo email non verrà pubblicato. I campi obbligatori sono contrassegnati *