We address the bit allocation problem in scenarios where there exist two-dimensional (2D) dependencies in the bit allocation, i.e., where the allocation involves a 2D set of coding units (e.g., DCT blocks in standard MPEG coding) and where the rate-distortion (RD) characteristics of each coding unit depend on one or more of the other coding units. These coding units can be located anywhere in 2D space. As an example we consider MPEG-4 intra-coding where, in order to further reduce the redundancy between coefficients, both the DC and certain of the AC coefficients of each block are predicted from the corresponding coefficients in either the previous block in the same line (to the left) or the one above the current block. To find the optimal solution may be a time-consuming problem, given that the RD characteristics of each block depend on those of the neighbors.
Greedy search approaches are popular due to their low complexity and low memory consumption, but they may be far from optimal due to the dependencies in the coding. In this work, we propose an iterative message-passing technique to solve 2D dependent bit allocation problems. This technique is based on (i) Soft-in/Soft-out (SISO) algorithms first used in the context of Turbo codes, (ii) a grid model, and (iii) Lagrangian optimization techniques. In order to solve this problem our approach is to iteratively compute the soft information of a current DCT block (intrinsic information) and pass the soft decision (extrinsic information) to other nearby DCT block(s). Since the computational complexity is also dominated by the data
generation phase, i.e., in the Rate-Distortion (RD) data population process, we introduce an approximation method to eliminate the need to generate the entire set of RD points. Experimental studies reveal that the system that uses the proposed message-passing algorithm is able to outperform the greedy search approach by 0.57 dB on average. We also show that the proposed algorithm requires slightly more memory and higher complexity than the greedy search approach.