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James T. Todd, Alexander A. Petrov; The many facets of shape. Journal of Vision 2022;22(1):1. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/jov.22.1.1.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
Shape is an interesting property of objects because it is used in ordinary discourse in ways that seem to have little connection to how it is typically defined in mathematics. The present article describes how the concept of shape can be grounded within Euclidean and non-Euclidean geometry and also to human perception. It considers the formal methods that have been proposed for measuring the differences among shapes and how the performance of those methods compares with shape difference thresholds of human observers. It discusses how different types of shape change can be perceptually categorized. It also evaluates the specific data structures that have been used to represent shape in models of both human and machine vision, and it reviews the psychophysical evidence about the extent to which those models are consistent with human perception. Based on this review of the literature, we argue that shape is not one thing but rather a collection of many object attributes, some of which are more perceptually salient than others. Because the relative importance of these attributes can be context dependent, there is no obvious single definition of shape that is universally applicable in all situations.
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