Image pyramids are created by applying a lowpass filter (Gaussian) and then decimating the image (keeping only every n'th sample).

In The Pyramid as a Structure for Efficient Computation the start image is 257x257. Then the next level is 129x129, 65x65 etc.

Without decimation, one could get the same image size by applying a convolution of stride 2 and padding 2. For $i = 257$, $k = 5$, $s = 2$ and $p = 2$ the result is $\lfloor\frac{i + 2p - k}{s}\rfloor + 1 = 129$. The kernel is still Gaussian so a low pass filter.

In Convolutional Neural Networks it is actually quite common to use a higher stride to reduce the image size. This is an alternative to max pooling where one decimates the image by computing the maximal value in $k\times k$ image patches (obtained by a filter).

My question is now: Is it possible to combine decimation and low pass filtering in one step? Not necessarily only for images but also for general signals.


1 Answer 1


Is it possible to combine decimation and low pass filtering in one step? Not necessarily only for images but also for general signals.

Yes, that's what people usually do when they implement downsampling: since of the output of the anti-aliasing filter, you throw away N-1 samples, why even calculate these?

The trick is to decompose your filter into polyphase components, which enables you to run the resulting filter operation only once per output of the downsampling, instead of once per input. There's plenty of reference implementations - from GNU Radio's decimating FIR filters, to rescalers in image processing hardware.

Think of it this way:

The trick is to take your original filter $[h_0, h_1, h_2, h_3, \ldots, h_N, h_{N+1}, h_{N+2},\ldots,h_{2N}, h_{2N+1}, \ldots]$ and just split it up into filters where there's only one non-zero entry every $N$ coefficients. Choose the non-zero-value positions so that the first polyphase component filter gets $h_0, h_N, h_{2N},\ldots $, the second gets $h_1, h_{N+1}, h_{2N+1},\ldots$ and so on.

Add up the result of these filters, when you feed in the same input, to "undo" the splitting. This doesn't change anything, it's the same filter, just split into $N$ filters with many zeros in them, but with the non-zero elements in different positions.

After the addition, you decimate by $N$. Ok, you can do that before the addition, so now you have one input stream, fed into $N$ subfilters, each with a lot of zeros in them, each followed by a decimation by $N$.

Now you have a special kind of filter that only had every Nth filter tap occupied, so the first subfilter's coefficient vector is $[h_0, 0, \ldots, 0, h_N, 0, \ldots, 0, h_{2N}, 0 \ldots]$, and you'd decimate by $N$ afterwards, you could as well just swap decimation and filter, and just use the filter $[h_0,h_N,h_{2N},\ldots]$. The two things are identical in effect; this is called Noble Identity.

So, we can "pull the decimation up front" for that filter. You can, in fact, do that to all subfilters (you will have to add delay so that it works out mathematically for the non-zero-phase polyphase components, but the idea doesn't change. You have one input stream, going into $N$ different delays, decimate-by-$N$ decimators, subfilters, and a summation.

As it happens, this means that only one "branch" at a time actually gets input per input cycle.

  • $\begingroup$ Maybe you could mention Noble's identities from the filterbank background? $\endgroup$ Jul 19, 2020 at 15:25
  • $\begingroup$ @LaurentDuval good idea, let me find a formulation of that really quick. $\endgroup$ Jul 19, 2020 at 15:27
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    $\begingroup$ Take your time, don't downsample your thoughts $\endgroup$ Jul 19, 2020 at 15:28

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