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First-order gradient regularisation methods for image restoration: reconstruction of tomographic images with thin structures and denoising piecewise affine images

Abstract: The focus of this thesis is variational image restoration techniques that involve novel non-smooth first-order gradient regularisers: Total Variation (TV) regularisation in image and data space for reconstruction of thin structures from PET data and regularisers given by an infimal-convolution of TV and L^p seminorms for denoising images with piecewise affine structures. In the first part of this thesis, we present a novel variational model for PET reconstruction. During a PET scan, we encounter two different spaces: the sinogram space that consists of all the PET data collected from the detectors and the image space where the reconstruction of the unknown density is finally obtained. Unlike most of the state of the art reconstruction methods in which an appropriate regulariser is designed in the image space only, we introduce a new variational method incorporating regularisation in image and sinogram space. In particular, the corresponding minimisation problem is formed by a total variational regularisation on both the sinogram and the image and with a suitable weighted L^2 fidelity term, which serves as an approximation to the Poisson noise model for PET. We establish the well-posedness of this new model for functions of Bounded Variation (BV) and perform an error analysis through the notion of the Bregman distance. We examine analytically how TV regularisation on the sinogram affects the reconstructed image especially the boundaries of objects in the image. This analysis motivates the use of a combined regularisation principally for reconstructing images with thin structures. In the second part of this thesis we propose a first-order regulariser that is a combination of the total variation and LpLp seminorms with 1<p≤∞. A well-posedness analysis is presented and a detailed study of the one dimensional model is performed by computing exact solutions for simple functions such as the step function and a piecewise affine function, for the regulariser with p=2 and p=1. We derive necessary and sufficient conditions for a pair in BV × L^p to be a solution for our proposed model and determine the structure of solutions dependent on the value of pp. In the case p=2, we show that the regulariser is equivalent to the Huber-type variant of total variation regularisation. Moreover, there is a certain class of one dimensional data functions for which the regularised solutions are equivalent to high-order regularisers such as the state of the art total generalised variation (TGV) model. The key assets of our regulariser are the elimination of the staircasing effect - a well-known disadvantage of total variation regularisation - the capability of obtaining piecewise affine structures for p=1 and qualitatively comparable results to TGV. In addition, our first-order TVL^p regulariser is capable of preserving spike-like structures that TGV is forced to smooth. The numerical solution of the proposed first-order model is in general computationally more efficient compared to high-order approaches.