Most problems in image processing have structural aspects which are difficult to resolve using general methods. Use of heuristic methods is limited to cases where structural aspects are easy to resolve. An approach for hierarchical processing of images is described whereby structural aspects are resolved simultaneously with the analysis of data values. An effective use of a hierarchical structure puts strong restrictions upon information representation and operations. Information is represented in terms of compatibility of events, combined with a measure of confidence. Operations are of type symmetry operations, which allow data compression, context control and have a good descriptive power. The usefulness of these methods in image analysis and image processing is illustrated.