Determining the similarity of deformable shapes

Ronen Basri, Luiz Costa, Davi Geiger, David Jacobs

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Determining the similarity of two shapes is a significant task in both machine and human vision systems that must recognize or classify objects. The exact properties of human shape similarity judgements are not well understood yet, and this task is particularly difficult in domains where the shapes are not related by rigid transformations. In this paper we identify a number of possibly desirable properties of a shape similarity method, and determine the extent to which these properties can be captured by approaches that compare local properties of the contours of the shapes, through elastic matching. Special attention is devoted to objects that possess articulations, i.e. articulated parts. Elastic matching evaluates the similarity of two shapes as the sum of local deformations needed to change one shape into another. We show that similarities of part structure can be captured by such an approach, without the explicit computation of part structure. This may be of importance, since although parts appear to play a significant role in visual recognition, it is difficult to stably determine part structure. We also show novel results about how one can evaluate smooth and polyhedral shapes with the same method. Finally, we describe shape similarity effects that cannot be handled by current approaches.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2365-2385
Number of pages21
JournalVision research
Issue number15-16
StatePublished - Aug 1998

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ophthalmology
  • Sensory Systems

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