Efficient DCT-domain blind measurement and reduction of blocking artifacts
Blocking artifacts continue to be among the most serious defects that occur in images and video streams compressed to low bit rates using block discrete cosine transform (DCT)-based compression standards (e.g., JPEG, MPEG, and H.263). It is of interest to be able to numerically assess the degree of blocking artifact in a visual signal, for example, in order to objectively determine the efficacy of a compression method, or to discover the quality of video content being delivered by a web server. We propose new methods for efficiently assessing, and subsequently reducing, the severity of blocking artifacts in compressed image bitstreams. The method is blind, and operates only in the DCT domain. Hence, it can be applied to unknown visual signals, and it is efficient since the signal need not be compressed or decompressed. In the algorithm, blocking artifacts are modeled as 2-D step functions. A fast DCT-domain algorithm extracts all parameters needed to detect the presence of, and estimate the amplitude of blocking artifacts, by exploiting several properties of the human vision system. Using the estimate of blockiness, a novel DCT-domain method is then developed which adaptively reduces detected blocking artifacts. Our experimental results show that the proposed method of measuring blocking artifacts is effective and stable across a wide variety of images. Moreover, the proposed blocking-artifact reduction method exhibits satisfactory performance as compared to other post-processing techniques. The proposed technique has a low computational cost hence can be used for real-time image/video quality monitoring and control, especially in applications where it is desired that the image/video data be processed directly in the DCT-domain.