A parallel algorithm for real-time computation of optical flow

H. Bülthoff, J. Little, T. Poggio

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

110 Citations (Scopus)


The precise measurement of the two-dimensional field of velocities from time-varying two-dimensional images is impossible in general. It is, however, possible to compute suitable 'optical flows' that are qualitatively similar to the velocity field in most cases. We describe a simple, parallel algorithm that computes an optical flow from sequences of real images, which is consistent with human psychophysics and suggests plausible physiological models. In particular, our algorithm runs on a Connection Machine supercomputer in close-to-real time. It shows several of the same 'illusions' that are perceived by humans. A natural physiological implementation of the model is consistent with data from cortical areas V1 and MT.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)549-553
Number of pages5
Issue number6207
Publication statusPublished - 1989

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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