Chapter 10: Processes of Perception and Analysis

Section 7: Visual Perception

Image processing

The release of programs like Photoshop in the late 1980s made image processing operations such as smoothing, sharpening and edge detection widely available on general-purpose computers. Most of these operations are just done by applying ListConvolve with simple kernels. (Even before computers, such convolutions could be done using the fact that diffraction of light effectively performs Fourier transforms.) Ever since the 1960s all sorts of schemes for nonlinear processing of images have been discussed and used in particular communities. An example originally popular in the earth and environmental sciences is so-called mathematical morphology, based on "dilation" of data consisting of 0's and 1's with a "structuring element" σ according to Sign[ListConvolve[σ, data, 1, 0]] (as well as the dual operation of "erosion"). Most schemes like this can ultimately be thought of as picking out templates or applying simple cellular automaton rules.

From Stephen Wolfram: A New Kind of Science [citation]