Steerable ePCA: Rotationally Invariant Exponential Family PCA

Zhizhen Zhao, Lydia T. Liu, Amit Singer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


In photon-limited imaging, the pixel intensities are affected by photon count noise. Many applications require an accurate estimation of the covariance of the underlying 2-D clean images. For example, in X-ray free electron laser (XFEL) single molecule imaging, the covariance matrix of 2-D diffraction images is used to reconstruct the 3-D molecular structure. Accurate estimation of the covariance from low-photon-count images must take into account that pixel intensities are Poisson distributed, hence the classical sample covariance estimator is highly biased. Moreover, in single molecule imaging, including in-plane rotated copies of all images could further improve the accuracy of covariance estimation. In this paper we introduce an efficient and accurate algorithm for covariance matrix estimation of count noise 2-D images, including their uniform planar rotations and possibly reflections. Our procedure, steerable e PCA, combines in a novel way two recently introduced innovations. The first is a methodology for principal component analysis (PCA) for Poisson distributions, and more generally, exponential family distributions, called e PCA. The second is steerable PCA, a fast and accurate procedure for including all planar rotations when performing PCA. The resulting principal components are invariant to the rotation and reflection of the input images. We demonstrate the efficiency and accuracy of steerable e PCA in numerical experiments involving simulated XFEL datasets and rotated face images from Yale Face Database B.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number9078828
Pages (from-to)6069-6081
Number of pages13
JournalIEEE Transactions on Image Processing
StatePublished - 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Software
  • Computer Graphics and Computer-Aided Design


  • Poisson noise
  • X-ray free electron laser
  • autocorrelation analysis
  • eigenvalue shrinkage
  • image denoising
  • steerable PCA


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