The Logic of Depth Cue Combination

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Christopher Tyler


Sharon Gilae-Dotan, Bar-Ilan University, Tel Aviv

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Abstract. For the visual world in which we operate, the core issue is to conceptualize how its three-dimensional structure is encoded through the neural computation of multiple depth cues and their integration to a unitary depth structure. One approach to this issue is the full Bayesian model of scene understanding, but this is shown to require selection from the implausibly large number of possible scenes. An alternative approach is to propagate the implied depth structure solution for the scene through the “belief propagation” algorithm on general probability distributions. However, a more efficient model of local slant propagation is developed as an alternative. The overall depth percept must be derived from the combination of all available depth cues, but a simple linear summation rule across, say, a dozen different depth cues, would massively overestimate the perceived depth in the scene in cases where each cue alone provides a close-to-veridical depth estimate. On the other hand, a Bayesian averaging or “modified weak fusion” model for depth cue combination does not provide for the observed enhancement of perceived depth from weak depth cues. Thus, the current models do not account for the empirical properties of perceived depth from multiple depth cues. The present analysis shows that these problems can be addressed by an asymptotic, or hyperbolic Minkowski, approach to cue combination. With appropriate parameters, this first-order rule gives strong summation for a few depth cues, but the effect of an increasing number of cues beyond that remains too weak to account for the available degree of perceived depth magnitude. Finally, an accelerated asymptotic rule is proposed to match the empirical strength of perceived depth as measured, with appropriate behavior for any number of depth cues.