A smoothing technique for processing digital images is presented. The smoothing technique of this invention comprises a two-dimensional digital hysteresis filter which utilizes a 'two-dimensional automatically adjusting variable mask' for intensity processing. As a result, the filter is independent of the image size and content and cannot alter the size of any significant intensity features, even if they are as small as one pixel in size. The intensity processing technique provides the basis for a separation of the image information into basic information groups. The two-dimensional hysteresis smoothing technique of this invention calculates the intensity value of smoothed pixels using a set of one-dimensional hysteresis lines at various angles running through each pixel in an image. Each one-dimensional hysteresis line calculates a new intensity value for each pixel in an image. These one-dimensional hysteresis values are added together and divided by the number of hysteresis lines to get the output values for the pixel. This operation requires complex processing and is preferably realized through a massively parallel processing array processor which allows near-real time processing speeds on 1K.times.1K images.
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