## Measuring boundary length

Tuesday, September 14th, 2010

Oftentimes we segment an image to find objects of interest, and then measure these objects — their area, their perimeter, their aspect ratio, etc. etc. Measuring the area is accomplished simply by counting the number of pixels. But measuring the perimeter is not as simple. If we simply count the number of boundary pixels we seriously underestimate the boundary length. This is just not a good method. A method only slightly more complex can produce an unbiased estimate of boundary length. I will show how this method works in this post. There exist several much more complex methods, that can further improve this estimate under certain assumptions. However, these are too complex to be any fun. I’ll leave those as an exercise to the reader. ðŸ™‚

Because we will examine only the boundary of the object, the chain code representation is the ideal one. What this does, is encode the boundary of the object as a sequence of steps, from pixel to pixel, all around the object. We thus reduce the binary image to a simple sequence of numbers. In future posts I’ll explain a simple algorithm to obtain such a chain code, and show how to use chain codes to obtain other measures. In this post we’ll focus on how to use them to measure boundary length.