In choosing the Grayscale Standard Display Function, it was considered mandatory to have only one continuous, monotonically behaving mathematical function for the entire Luminance Range of interest. Correspondingly, for simplicity of implementing the Grayscale Standard Display Function, it was felt to be useful to define it by only one table of data pairs. As a secondary objective, it was considered desirable that the Grayscale Standard Display Function provide similarity in grayscale rendition on Display Systems of different Luminance Range and that good use of the available DDLs of a Display System was facilitated.
Perceptual linearization was thought to be a useful concept for arriving at a Grayscale Standard Display Function for meeting the above secondary objectives; however, it is not considered an objective by itself. Apart from the fact that is probably an elusive goal to perceptually linearize all types of medical images under various viewing conditions by one mathematical function, medical images are mostly presented by application-specific Display Functions that assign contrast non-uniformly according to clinical needs.
Intuitively, one would assume that perceptually linearized images on different Display Systems will be judged to be similar. To achieve perceptual linearization, a model of the human visual system response was required and the Barten model [A1] was chosen.
Early experiments showed that an appealing degree of contrast equalization and similarity could be obtained with a Display Function derived from Bartenís model of human visual system response. The employed images were square patterns, the SMPTE pattern, and the Briggsí pattern [A2].
It was wished to relate DDLs of a Display System to some perceptually linear scale, primarily, to gain efficient utilization of the available input levels. If digitization levels lead to luminance or optical density levels that are perceptually indistinguishable, they are wasted. If they are too far apart, the observer may see contours. Hence, the concept of perceptual linearization was retained, not as a goal for the Grayscale Standard Display Function, but to obtain a concept for a measure of how well these objectives have been met.
Perceptual linearization is realizable, in a strict sense, only for rather simple images like square patterns or gratings in a uniform surrounding. Nevertheless, the concept of a perceptually linearized Display Function derived from experiments with simple test patterns has been successfully applied to complex images as described in the literature [A3-A8]. While it was clearly recognized that perceptual linearization can never be achieved for all details or spatial frequencies and object sizes at once, perceptual linearization for frequencies and object sizes near the peak of human Contrast Sensitivity seemed to do a ìreasonable jobî also in complex images.
Limited (unpublished) experiments have indicated that perceptual linearization for a particular detail in a complex image with a wide Luminance Range and heterogeneous surround required Display Functions which are rather strongly bent in the dark regions of the image and that such Display Functions for a low-luminance and a high-luminance display system would not be part of a continuous, monotonic function. This experience may underly the considerations of the CIELab curve [A9] proposed by other standards groups.
Other experiments and observations with computed radiographs seemed to suggest that similarity could also be obtained between grayscale renditions on Display Systems of different Luminance when the same application-specific function is combined with log-linear Characteristic Curves of the Display Systems. Thus similarity, if not contrast equalization, could be gained by a straight, luminance-independent shape for the Display Function.
While it might have been equally sensible to choose the rather simple log-linear Display Function as a standard, this was not done for the following reason, among others.
For high-resolution Display Systems with high intrinsic video bandwidth, digitization resolution is limited to 8 or 10 bits because of technology and other constraints. The more a Grayscale Standard Display Function deviates from the Characteristic Curve of a Display System, the poorer the utilization of DDLs typically is from a perception point of view. The Characteristic Curve of CRT Display Systems has a convex curvature with respect to a log-linear straight line. It differs much less from Display Functions derived from human vision models and the concept of perceptual linearization than from a log-linear Display Function.
When using application-specific display processes which cause the resultant Display Function to deviate strongly from the Grayscale Standard Display Function, the function conceivably does not provide good similarity. In this case, other functions may yield better similarity.
In summary, a Display Function was derived from Bartenís model of the human visual system to gain a single continuous mathematical function which in its curvature falls between a log-linear response and a Display Function that may yield perceptual linearization in complex scenery with a wide luminance range within the image. Other models of human contrast sensitivity may potentially provide a better function, but were not evaluated. The notion of perceptual linearization was chosen to meet the secondary objectives of the Grayscale Standard Display Function, but not as an explicit goal of the Grayscale Standard Display Function itself. It is recognized that better functions may exist to meet these objectives. It is believed that almost any single mathematically defined Standard Function will greatly improve image presentations on Display Systems in communication networks.