Comparison of energy minimization algorithms for highly connected graphs

Vladimir Kolmogorov and Carsten Rother.

In European Conference on Computer Vision (ECCV), May 2006.


Algorithms for discrete energy minimization play a fundamental role for low-level vision. Known techniques include graph cuts, belief propagation (BP) and recently introduced tree-reweighted message passing (TRW). So far, the standard benchmark for their comparison has been a 4-connected grid-graph arising in pixel-labelling stereo. This minimization problem, however, has been largely solved: recent work shows that for many scenes TRW finds the global optimum. Furthermore, it is known that a 4-connected grid-graph is a poor stereo model since it does not take occlusions into account.

We propose the problem of stereo with occlusions as a new test bed for minimization algorithms. This is a more challenging graph since it has much larger connectivity, and it also serves as a better stereo model. An attractive feature of this problem is that increased connectivity does not result in increased complexity of message passing algorithms. Indeed, one contribution of this paper is to show that sophisticated implementations of BP and TRW have the same time and memory complexity as that of 4-connected grid-graph stereo.

The main conclusion of our experimental study is that for our problem graph cut outperforms both TRW and BP considerably. TRW achieves consistently a lower energy than BP. However, as connectivity increases the speed of convergence of TRW becomes slower. Unlike 4-connected grids, the difference between the energy of the best optimization method and the lower bound of TRW appears significant. This shows the hardness of the problem and motivates future research.


Extended version: Microsoft Technical Report MSR-TR-2006-19