Octree Algorithms

The principle of the octree algorithm is to sequentially read in the image. Every color is then stored in an octree of depth 8 (every leaf at depth 8 represents a distinct color). A limit of K (in this case K = 256) leaves is placed on the tree. Insertion of a color in the tree can result in two outcomes.
  1. If there are less than K leaves the the color is filtered down the tree until either it reaches some leaf node that has an associated representative color or it reaches the leaf node representing its unique color.

  2. If there are greater than K leaves in the tree some set of leaves in the tree must be merged (their representative colors averaged) together and a new representative color stored in their parent.
Gervautz & Purgathofer[1] offer 2 possible criteria to be used in the selection of leaves to be merged.
  1. Reducible nodes that have the largest depth in the tree should be chosen first. They represent colors that lie closest together.

  2. If there is more than one group of leaves at the maximum depth the algorithm could:

    1. Merge the leaves that represent the fewest number of pixels. This will help keep the error small

    2. Reduce the leaves that represent the most pixels. In this case large areas will be uniformly filled in a slightly wrong color while maintaining detailed shadings.

Once the entire image has been processed in this manner the color map consists of the representative colors of the leaf nodes in the tree. The index of the color map is then stored at that leaf, and the process of quantizing the image is simply filtering each color down the tree until a leaf is hit.

Because a limit is placed on the number of leaves in the tree this algorithm has a modest memory complexity, O(K), compared to the median cut and popularity algorithms. The time complexity is more unclear. Gervautz & Purgathofer[1] site the search phase as being O(N) where N is the number of pixels in the image. This is clearly best case behavior. The average case needs to address the complexity of the merging algorithm.