## 2019-10-10

### image denoising; the space of natural images

I got in a bit of research in a mostly-teaching day. I saw the CDS Math-and-Data seminar, which was by Peyman Milanfar (Google) about de-noising models. In particular, he was talking about some of the theory and ideas behind the de-noising that Google uses in its Pixel cameras and related technology. They use methods that are adaptive to the image itself but which don't explicitly learn a library of image priors or patch priors or anything like that from data. (But they do train the models on human reactions to the denoising.)

Milanfar's theoretical results were nice. For example: De-noising is like a gradient step in response to a loss function! That's either obvious or deep. I'll go with deep. And good images (non-noisy natural images) should be fixed points of the de-noising projection (which is in general non-linear). Their methods identify similar parts of the images and use commonality of those parts to inform the nonlinear projections. But he explained all this with very simple notation, which was nice.

After the talk I had a quick conversation with Jonathan Niles-Weed (NYU) about the geometry of the space of natural images. Here's a great argument he gave: Imagine you have two arbitrarily different images, like one of the Death Star (tm) and one of the inside of the seminar room. Are these images connected to one another in the natural-image subspace of image space? That is, is there a continuous transformation from one to the other, every point along which is itself a good natural image?

Well, if I can imagine a continuous tracking shot (movie) of me walking out of the seminar room and into a spaceship and then out of the airlock on a space walk to repair the Death Star (tm), and if every frame in that movie is a good natural image, and everything is continuous, then yes! What a crazy argument. The space of all natural images might be one continuously connected blob. Crazy! I love the way mathematicians think.

#### 1 comment:

1. Thanks for attending my talk. I'll post the slides to Twitter shortly.

Peyman