C++ Boost

Pixel Locator


A Locator allows for navigation in two or more dimensions. Locators are N-dimensional iterators in spirit, but we use a different name because they don’t satisfy all the requirements of iterators. For example, they don’t supply increment and decrement operators because it is unclear which dimension the operators should advance along. N-dimensional locators model the following concept:

concept RandomAccessNDLocatorConcept<Regular Loc>
  typename value_type;        // value over which the locator navigates
  typename reference;         // result of dereferencing
  typename difference_type; where PointNDConcept<difference_type>; // return value of operator-.
  typename const_t;           // same as Loc, but operating over immutable values
  typename cached_location_t; // type to store relative location (for efficient repeated access)
  typename point_t  = difference_type;

  static const size_t num_dimensions; // dimensionality of the locator
  where num_dimensions = point_t::num_dimensions;

  // The difference_type and iterator type along each dimension. The iterators may only differ in
  // difference_type. Their value_type must be the same as Loc::value_type
  template <size_t D> struct axis {
      typename coord_t = point_t::axis<D>::coord_t;
      typename iterator; where RandomAccessTraversalConcept<iterator>; // iterator along D-th axis.
      where iterator::value_type == value_type;

  // Defines the type of a locator similar to this type, except it invokes Deref upon dereferencing
  template <PixelDereferenceAdaptorConcept Deref> struct add_deref {
      typename type;        where RandomAccessNDLocatorConcept<type>;
      static type make(const Loc& loc, const Deref& deref);

  Loc& operator+=(Loc&, const difference_type&);
  Loc& operator-=(Loc&, const difference_type&);
  Loc operator+(const Loc&, const difference_type&);
  Loc operator-(const Loc&, const difference_type&);

  reference operator*(const Loc&);
  reference operator[](const Loc&, const difference_type&);

  // Storing relative location for faster repeated access and accessing it
  cached_location_t Loc::cache_location(const difference_type&) const;
  reference operator[](const Loc&,const cached_location_t&);

  // Accessing iterators along a given dimension at the current location or at a given offset
  template <size_t D> axis<D>::iterator&       Loc::axis_iterator();
  template <size_t D> axis<D>::iterator const& Loc::axis_iterator() const;
  template <size_t D> axis<D>::iterator        Loc::axis_iterator(const difference_type&) const;

template <typename Loc>
concept MutableRandomAccessNDLocatorConcept
    : RandomAccessNDLocatorConcept<Loc>
  where Mutable<reference>;

Two-dimensional locators have additional requirements:

concept RandomAccess2DLocatorConcept<RandomAccessNDLocatorConcept Loc>
  where num_dimensions==2;
  where Point2DConcept<point_t>;

  typename x_iterator = axis<0>::iterator;
  typename y_iterator = axis<1>::iterator;
  typename x_coord_t  = axis<0>::coord_t;
  typename y_coord_t  = axis<1>::coord_t;

  // Only available to locators that have dynamic step in Y
  //Loc::Loc(const Loc& loc, y_coord_t);

  // Only available to locators that have dynamic step in X and Y
  //Loc::Loc(const Loc& loc, x_coord_t, y_coord_t, bool transposed=false);

  x_iterator&       Loc::x();
  x_iterator const& Loc::x() const;
  y_iterator&       Loc::y();
  y_iterator const& Loc::y() const;

  x_iterator Loc::x_at(const difference_type&) const;
  y_iterator Loc::y_at(const difference_type&) const;
  Loc Loc::xy_at(const difference_type&) const;

  // x/y versions of all methods that can take difference type
  x_iterator        Loc::x_at(x_coord_t, y_coord_t) const;
  y_iterator        Loc::y_at(x_coord_t, y_coord_t) const;
  Loc               Loc::xy_at(x_coord_t, y_coord_t) const;
  reference         operator()(const Loc&, x_coord_t, y_coord_t);
  cached_location_t Loc::cache_location(x_coord_t, y_coord_t) const;

  bool      Loc::is_1d_traversable(x_coord_t width) const;
  y_coord_t Loc::y_distance_to(const Loc& loc2, x_coord_t x_diff) const;

concept MutableRandomAccess2DLocatorConcept<RandomAccess2DLocatorConcept Loc>
    : MutableRandomAccessNDLocatorConcept<Loc> {};

2D locators can have a dynamic step not just horizontally, but vertically. This gives rise to the Y equivalent of HasDynamicXStepTypeConcept:

concept HasDynamicYStepTypeConcept<typename T>
  typename dynamic_y_step_type<T>;
      where Metafunction<dynamic_y_step_type<T> >;

All locators and image views that GIL provides model HasDynamicYStepTypeConcept.

Sometimes it is necessary to swap the meaning of X and Y for a given locator or image view type (for example, GIL provides a function to transpose an image view). Such locators and views must be transposable:

concept HasTransposedTypeConcept<typename T>
  typename transposed_type<T>;
      where Metafunction<transposed_type<T> >;

All GIL provided locators and views model HasTransposedTypeConcept.

The locators GIL uses operate over models of PixelConcept and their x and y dimension types are the same. They model the following concept:

concept PixelLocatorConcept<RandomAccess2DLocatorConcept Loc>
  where PixelValueConcept<value_type>;
  where PixelIteratorConcept<x_iterator>;
  where PixelIteratorConcept<y_iterator>;
  where x_coord_t == y_coord_t;

  typename coord_t = x_coord_t;

concept MutablePixelLocatorConcept<PixelLocatorConcept Loc> : MutableRandomAccess2DLocatorConcept<Loc> {};


GIL provides two models of PixelLocatorConcept - a memory-based locator, memory_based_2d_locator and a virtual locator virtual_2d_locator.

The memory_based_2d_locator is a locator over planar or interleaved images that have their pixels in memory. It takes a model of StepIteratorConcept over pixels as a template parameter. (When instantiated with a model of MutableStepIteratorConcept, it models MutablePixelLocatorConcept).

// StepIterator models StepIteratorConcept, MemoryBasedIteratorConcept
template <typename StepIterator>
class memory_based_2d_locator;

The step of StepIterator must be the number of memory units (bytes or bits) per row (thus it must be memunit advanceable). The class memory_based_2d_locator is a wrapper around StepIterator and uses it to navigate vertically, while its base iterator is used to navigate horizontally.

Combining fundamental iterator and step iterator allows us to create locators that describe complex pixel memory organizations. First, we have a choice of iterator to use for horizontal direction, i.e. for iterating over the pixels on the same row. Using the fundamental and step iterators gives us four choices:

  • pixel<T,C>* - for interleaved images
  • planar_pixel_iterator<T*,C> - for planar images
  • memory_based_step_iterator<pixel<T,C>*> - for interleaved images with non-standard step)
  • memory_based_step_iterator<planar_pixel_iterator<T*,C> > - for planar images with non-standard step

Of course, one could provide their own custom x-iterator. One such example described later is an iterator adaptor that performs color conversion when dereferenced.

Given a horizontal iterator XIterator, we could choose the y-iterator, the iterator that moves along a column, as memory_based_step_iterator<XIterator> with a step equal to the number of memory units (bytes or bits) per row. Again, one is free to provide their own y-iterator.

Then we can instantiate memory_based_2d_locator<memory_based_step_iterator<XIterator> > to obtain a 2D pixel locator, as the diagram indicates:


The memory_based_2d_locator also offers cached_location_t as mechanism to store relative locations for optimized repeated access of neighborhood pixels. The 2D coordinates of relative locations are cached as 1-dimensional raw byte offsets. This provides efficient access if a neighboring locations relative to a given locator are read or written frequently (e.g. in filters).

The virtual_2d_locator is a locator that is instantiated with a function object invoked upon dereferencing a pixel. It returns the value of a pixel given its X,Y coordinates. Virtual locators can be used to implement virtual image views that can model any user-defined function. See the GIL tutorial for an example of using virtual locators to create a view of the Mandelbrot set.

Both the virtual and the memory-based locators subclass from pixel_2d_locator_base, a base class that provides most of the interface required by PixelLocatorConcept. Users may find this base class useful if they need to provide other models of PixelLocatorConcept.

Here is some sample code using locators:

loc=img.xy_at(10,10);            // start at pixel (x=10,y=10)
above=loc.cache_location(0,-1);  // remember relative locations of neighbors above and below
below=loc.cache_location(0, 1);
++loc.x();                       // move to (11,10)
loc.y()+=15;                     // move to (11,25)
loc-=point<std::ptrdiff_t>(1,1);// move to (10,24)
*loc=(loc(0,-1)+loc(0,1))/2;     // set pixel (10,24) to the average of (10,23) and (10,25) (grayscale pixels only)
*loc=(loc[above]+loc[below])/2;  // the same, but faster using cached relative neighbor locations

The standard GIL locators are fast and lightweight objects. For example, the locator for a simple interleaved image consists of one raw pointer to the pixel location plus one integer for the row size in bytes, for a total of 8 bytes. ++loc.x() amounts to incrementing a raw pointer (or N pointers for planar images). Computing 2D offsets is slower as it requires multiplication and addition. Filters, for example, need to access the same neighbors for every pixel in the image, in which case the relative positions can be cached into a raw byte difference using cache_location. In the above example loc[above] for simple interleaved images amounts to a raw array index operator.

Iterator over 2D image

Sometimes we want to perform the same, location-independent operation over all pixels of an image. In such a case it is useful to represent the pixels as a one-dimensional array. GIL’s iterator_from_2d is a random access traversal iterator that visits all pixels in an image in the natural memory-friendly order left-to-right inside top-to-bottom. It takes a locator, the width of the image and the current X position. This is sufficient information for it to determine when to do a “carriage return”. Synopsis:

template <typename Locator>  // Models PixelLocatorConcept
class iterator_from_2d
  iterator_from_2d(const Locator& loc, int x, int width);

  iterator_from_2d& operator++(); // if (++_x<_width) ++_p.x(); else _p+=point_t(-_width,1);

  int _x, _width;
  Locator _p;

Iterating through the pixels in an image using iterator_from_2d is slower than going through all rows and using the x-iterator at each row. This is because two comparisons are done per iteration step - one for the end condition of the loop using the iterators, and one inside iterator_from_2d::operator++ to determine whether we are at the end of a row. For fast operations, such as pixel copy, this second check adds about 15% performance delay (measured for interleaved images on Intel platform). GIL overrides some STL algorithms, such as std::copy and std::fill, when invoked with iterator_from_2d-s, to go through each row using their base x-iterators, and, if the image has no padding (i.e. iterator_from_2d::is_1d_traversable() returns true) to simply iterate using the x-iterators directly.