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Photon noise and constant-volume operators.


In an earlier paper [J. Opt. Soc. Am. A 2, 1769 (1985)] a class of nonlinear image processing operators was introduced in which each photoreceptor creates a nonnegative point-spread function whose center height is proportional to its quantum catch and whose volume is constant, so that the local spatial-summation area varies inversely with the local quantum catch. These constant-volume (CV) operators are designed to maximize spatial resolution in the presence of photon noise. In the previous paper it was shown that when CV operators are applied to deterministic images, they produce a surprising range of effects that are reminiscent of human vision, including Mach bands and Weber's-law behavior. In this paper the consequences of applying CV operators to images containing Poisson noise are analyzed. It is shown that a fixed-parameter CV operator can duplicate the global qualitative properties of spatial vision for retinal illuminances ranging from absolute threshold to 1000 Td. Although there are fundamental obstacles to modeling the exact quantitative properties of human spatial vision by CV operators, these operators seem likely to be useful in machine vision.

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