Stanley R. Sternberg - Ann Arbor MI
William Dargel - Ann Arbor MI
John W. Lennington - Ann Arbor MI
Thomas Voiles - Ann Arbor MI
Visual Key, Inc. - Ann Arbor MI
Physical objects, including still and moving images, are transformed into more compact forms for identification and other purposes using a method unrelated to existing image-matching systems which rely on feature extraction. An auxiliary construct, preferably a warp grid, is associated with an image, and a series of transformations are imposed to generate a unique visual key for identification, comparisons, and other operations. Search methods are also disclosed for matching an unknown image to one previously represented in a visual key database. Broadly, a preferred search method sequentially examines candidate database images for their closeness of match in a sequential order determined by their a priori match probability. Thus, the most likely match candidate is examined first, the next most likely second, and so forth. With respect to the recognition of video sequences and other information streams, inventive holotropic stream recognition principles are deployed, wherein the statistics of the spatial distribution of warp grid points is used to generate index keys.