Nonlocal CNN SAR Image Despeckling
D. Cozzolino, L. Verdoliva, G. Scarpa, G. Poggi
Remote Sensing 2020

We propose a new method for SAR image despeckling, which performs nonlocal filtering with a deep learning engine. Nonlocal filtering has proven very effective for SAR despeckling. The key idea is to exploit image self-similarities to estimate the hidden signal. In its simplest form, pixel-wise nonlocal means, the target pixel is estimated through a weighted average of neighbors, with weights chosen on the basis of a patch-wise measure of similarity. Here, we keep the very same structure of plain nonlocal means, to ensure interpretability of results, but use a convolutional neural network to assign weights to estimators. Suitable nonlocal layers are used in the network to take into account information in a large analysis window. Experiments on both simulated and real-world SAR images show that the proposed method exhibits state-of-the-art performance. In addition, the comparison of weights generated by conventional and deep learning-based nonlocal means provides new insight into the potential and limits of nonlocal information for SAR despeckling.

Guided patchwise nonlocal SAR despeckling
S. Vitale, D. Cozzolino, G. Scarpa, L. Verdoliva, G. Poggi

SAR images are affected by an inherent “noise” known as speckle. We propose a new method for SAR image despeckling, which leverages information drawn from coregistered optical imagery. Filtering is performed by patchwise nonlocal means, working exclusively on SAR data. However, the filtering weights are computed by taking into account also the optical guide, which is much cleaner than the SAR image, and hence more discriminative.

The Offset-Compensated Nonlocal Filtering of Interferometric Phase
F. Sica, D. Cozzolino, L. Verdoliva, G. Poggi
Remote Sensing 2018

The nonlocal approach, proposed originally for additive white Gaussian noise image filtering, has rapidly gained popularity in many applicative fields and for a large variety of tasks. It has proven especially successful for the restoration of Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) images: single-look and multi-look amplitude images, multi-temporal stacks, polarimetric data. Recently, powerful nonlocal filters have been proposed also for Interferometric SAR (InSAR) data, with excellent results. Nonetheless, a severe decay of performance has been observed in regions characterized by a uniform phase gradient, which are relatively common in InSAR images, as they correspond to constant slope terrains. This inconvenience is ultimately due to the rare patch effect, the lack of suitable predictors for the target patch. In this paper, to address this problem, we propose the use of offset-compensated similarity measures in nonlocal filtering. With this approach, the set of candidate predictors is augmented by including patches that differ from the target only for a constant phase offset, which is automatically estimated and compensated. We develop offset-compensated versions of both basic nonlocal means and InSAR-Block-Matching 3D (BM3D), a state-of-the-art InSAR phase filter. Experiments on simulated images and real-world TanDEM-X SAR interferometric pairs prove the effectiveness of the proposed method.

InSAR-BM3D: A Nonlocal Filter for SAR Interferometric Phase Restoration
F. Sica, D. Cozzolino, X. X. Zhu, L. Verdoliva, G. Poggi

The block-matching 3-D (BM3D) algorithm, based on the nonlocal approach, is one of the most effective methods to date for additive white Gaussian noise image denoising. Likewise, its extension to synthetic aperture radar (SAR) amplitude images, SAR-BM3D, is a state-of-the-art SAR despeckling algorithm. In this paper, we further extend BM3D to address the restoration of SAR interferometric phase images. While keeping the general structure of BM3D, its processing steps are modified to take into account the peculiarities of the SAR interferometry signal. Experiments on simulated and real-world Tandem-X SAR interferometric pairs prove the effectiveness of the proposed method.

Multitemporal SAR Image Despeckling Based on Block-Matching and Collaborative Filtering
G. Chierchia, M. El Gheche, G. Scarpa, L. Verdoliva

We propose a despeckling algorithm for multitemporal synthetic aperture radar (SAR) images based on the concepts of block-matching and collaborative filtering. It relies on the nonlocal approach, and it is the extension of SAR-BM3D for dealing with multitemporal data. The technique comprises two passes, each one performing grouping, collaborative filtering, and aggregation. In particular, the first pass performs both the spatial and temporal filtering, while the second pass only the spatial one. To avoid increasing the computational cost of the technique, we resort to lookup tables for the distance computation in the block-matching phases. The experiments show that the proposed algorithm compares favorably with respect to state-of-the-art reference techniques, with better results both on simulated speckled images and on real multitemporal SAR images.

SAR image despeckling through convolutional neural networks
G. Chierchia, D. Cozzolino, G. Poggi, L. Verdoliva

In this paper we investigate the use of discriminative model learning through Convolutional Neural Networks (CNNs) for SAR image despeckling. The network uses a residual learning strategy, hence it does not recover the filtered image, but the speckle component, which is then subtracted from the noisy one. Training is carried out by considering a large multitemporal SAR image and its multilook version, in order to approximate a clean image. Experimental results, both on synthetic and real SAR data, show the method to achieve better performance with respect to state-of-the-art techniques.

Fast Adaptive Nonlocal SAR Despeckling
D. Cozzolino, S. Parrilli, G. Scarpa, G. Poggi, L. Verdoliva

Despeckling techniques based on the nonlocal approach provide an excellent performance, but exhibit also a remarkable complexity, unsuited to time-critical applications. In this letter, we propose a fast nonlocal despeckling filter. Starting from the recent SAR-BM3D algorithm, we propose to use a variable-size search area driven by the activity level of each patch, and a probabilistic early termination approach that exploits speckle statistics in order to speed up block matching. Finally, the use of look-up tables helps in further reducing the processing costs. The technique proposed conjugates excellent performance and low complexity, as demonstrated on both simulated and real-world SAR images and on a dedicated SAR despeckling benchmark.

Benchmarking Framework for SAR Despeckling
G.D. Martino, M. Poderico, G. Poggi, D. Riccio, L. Verdoliva

Objective performance assessment is a key enabling factor for the development of better and better image processing algorithms. In synthetic aperture radar (SAR) despeckling, however, the lack of speckle-free images precludes the use of reliable full-reference measures, leaving the comparison among competing techniques on shaky bases. In this paper, we propose a new framework for the objective (quantitative) assessment of SAR despeckling techniques, based on simulation of SAR images relevant to canonical scenes. Each image is generated using a complete SAR simulator that includes proper physical models for the sensed surface, the scattering, and the radar operational mode. Therefore, in the limits of the simulation models, the employed simulation procedure generates reliable and meaningful SAR images with controllable parameters. Through simulating multiple SAR images as different instances relevant to the same scene we can therefore obtain, a true multilook full-resolution SAR image, with an arbitrary number of looks, thus generating (by definition) the closest object to a clean reference image. Based on this concept, we build a full performance assessment framework by choosing a suitable set of canonical scenes and corresponding objective measures on the SAR images that consider speckle suppression and feature preservation. We test our framework by studying the performance of a representative set of actual despeckling algorithms; we verify that the quantitative indications given by numerical measures are always fully consistent with the rationale specific of each despeckling technique, strongly agrees with qualitative (expert) visual inspections, and provide insight into SAR despeckling approaches.

A nonlocal SAR image denoising algorithm based on LLMMSE wavelet shrinkage
S. Parrilli, M. Poderico, C. V. Angelino, L. Verdoliva

We propose a novel despeckling algorithm for synthetic aperture radar (SAR) images based on the concepts of nonlocal filtering and wavelet-domain shrinkage. It follows the structure of the block-matching 3-D algorithm, recently proposed for additive white Gaussian noise denoising, but modifies its major processing steps in order to take into account the peculiarities of SAR images. A probabilistic similarity measure is used for the block-matching step, while the wavelet shrinkage is developed using an additive signal-dependent noise model and looking for the optimum local linear minimum-mean-square-error estimator in the wavelet domain. The proposed technique compares favorably w.r.t. several state-of-the-art reference techniques, with better results both in terms of signal-to-noise ratio (on simulated speckled images) and of perceived image quality.