Linear SFM: A hierarchical approach to solving structure-from-motion problems by decoupling the linear and nonlinear components

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Journal Article
ISPRS Journal of Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing, 2018, 141 pp. 275 - 289
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LinearSFM_ISPRS_R2_v2018-04-16.pdfAccepted manuscript3 MB
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© 2018 International Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing, Inc. (ISPRS) This paper presents a novel hierarchical approach to solving structure-from-motion (SFM) problems. The algorithm begins with small local reconstructions based on nonlinear bundle adjustment (BA). These are then joined in a hierarchical manner using a strategy that requires solving a linear least squares optimization problem followed by a nonlinear transform. The algorithm can handle ordered monocular and stereo image sequences. Two stereo images or three monocular images are adequate for building each initial reconstruction. The bulk of the computation involves solving a linear least squares problem and, therefore, the proposed algorithm avoids three major issues associated with most of the nonlinear optimization algorithms currently used for SFM: the need for a reasonably accurate initial estimate, the need for iterations, and the possibility of being trapped in a local minimum. Also, by summarizing all the original observations into the small local reconstructions with associated information matrices, the proposed Linear SFM manages to preserve all the information contained in the observations. The paper also demonstrates that the proposed problem formulation results in a sparse structure that leads to an efficient numerical implementation. The experimental results using publicly available datasets show that the proposed algorithm yields solutions that are very close to those obtained using a global BA starting with an accurate initial estimate. The C/C++ source code of the proposed algorithm is publicly available at
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