Deep Variation Prior: Joint Image Denoising and Noise Variance Estimation Without Clean Data

Rihuan Ke*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

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With recent deep learning based approaches showing promising results in removing noise from images, the best denoising performance has been reported in a supervised learning setup that requires a large set of paired noisy images and ground truth data for training. The strong data requirement can be mitigated by unsupervised learning techniques, however, accurate modelling of images or noise variances is still crucial for high-quality solutions. The learning problem is ill-posed for unknown noise distributions. This paper investigates the tasks of image denoising and noise variance estimation in a single, joint learning framework. To address the ill-posedness of the problem, we present deep variation prior (DVP), which states that the variation of a properly learnt denoiser with respect to the change of noise satisfies some smoothness properties, as a key criterion for good denoisers. Building upon DVP and under the assumption that the noise is zero mean and pixel-wise independent conditioned on the image, an unsupervised deep learning framework, that simultaneously learns a denoiser and estimates noise variances, is developed. Our method does not require any clean training images or an external step of noise estimation, and instead, approximates the minimum mean squared error denoisers using only a set of noisy images. With the two underlying tasks being considered in a single framework, we allow them to be optimised for each other. The experimental results show a denoising quality comparable to that of supervised learning and accurate noise variance estimates.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2908-2923
Number of pages16
JournalIEEE Transactions on Image Processing
Publication statusPublished - 16 Apr 2024

Bibliographical note

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  • deep learning without ground truth
  • Image denoising
  • noise level estimation
  • unsupervised learning


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