Evolute-based Hough transform method for characterization of ellipsoids


Megan T. Valentine, Department of Mechanical Engineering, University of California, Santa Barbara, CA 93106, U.S.A. Tel: 805–893-2594; fax: 805–893-8651; e-mail:


We propose a novel and algorithmically simple Hough transform method that exploits the geometric properties of ellipses to enable the robust determination of the ellipse position and properties. We make use of the unique features of the evolute created by Hough voting along the gradient vectors of a two-dimensional image to determine the ellipse centre, orientation and aspect ratio. A second one-dimensional voting is performed on the minor axis to uniquely determine the ellipse size. This reduction of search space substantially simplifies the algorithmic complexity. To demonstrate the accuracy of our method, we present analysis of single and multiple ellipsoidal particles, including polydisperse and imperfect ellipsoids, in both simulated images and electron micrographs. Given its mathematical simplicity, ease of implementation and reasonable algorithmic completion time, we anticipate that the proposed method will be broadly useful for image processing of ellipsoidal particles, including their detection and tracking for studies of colloidal suspensions, and for applications to drug delivery and microrheology.