From boundaries to bumps: When closed (extremal) contours are critical

J Vis. 2021 Dec 1;21(13):7. doi: 10.1167/jov.21.13.7.


Invariants underlying shape inference are elusive: A variety of shapes can give rise to the same image, and a variety of images can be rendered from the same shape. The occluding contour is a rare exception: It has both image salience, in terms of isophotes, and surface meaning, in terms of surface normal. We relax the notion of occluding contour and, more accurately, the rim on the object that projects to it, to define closed extremal curves. This new shape descriptor is invariant over different renderings. It exists at the topological level, which guarantees an image-based counterpart. It surrounds bumps and dents, as well as common interior shape components, and formalizes the qualitative nature of bump perception. The invariants are biologically computable, unify shape inferences from shading and specular materials, and predict new phenomena in bump and dent perception. Most important, working at the topological level allows us to capture the elusive aspect of bump boundaries.

PMID:34913951 | DOI:10.1167/jov.21.13.7


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