[1] M. Rumpf and B. Wirth. A nonlinear elastic shape averaging approach. SIAM J. Imaging Sci., 2(3):800-833, 2009.
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A physically motivated approach is presented to compute a shape average of a given number of shapes. An elastic deformation is assigned to each shape. The shape average is then described as the common image under all elastic deformations of the given shapes, which minimizes the total elastic energy stored in these deformations. The underlying nonlinear elastic energy measures the local change of length, area, and volume. It is invariant under rigid body motions, and isometries are local minimizers. The model is relaxed involving a further energy which measures how well the elastic deformation image of a particular shape matches the average shape, and a suitable shape prior can be considered for the shape average. Shapes are represented via their edge sets, which also allows for an application to averaging image morphologies described via ensembles of edge sets. To make the approach computationally tractable, sharp edges are approximated via phase fields, and a corresponding variational phase field model is derived. Finite elements are applied for the spatial discretization, and a multi-scale alternating minimization approach allows the efficient computation of shape averages in 2D and 3D. Various applications, e. g. averaging the shape of feet or human organs, underline the qualitative properties of the presented approach.