In applications of imaging science, such as emission tomography, fluorescence microscopy and optical/infrared astronomy, image intensity is measured via the counting of incident particles (photons, gamma-rays, etc). Fluctuations in the emission-counting process can be described by modeling the data as realizations of Poisson random variables (Poisson data). A maximum-likelihood approach for image reconstruction from Poisson data was proposed in the mid-1980s. Since the consequent maximization problem is, in general, ill-conditioned, various kinds of regularizations were introduced in the framework of the so-called Bayesian paradigm. A modification of the well-known Tikhonov regularization strategy results in the data-fidelity function being a generalized Kullback-Leibler divergence. Then a relevant issue is to find rules for selecting a proper value of the regularization parameter. In this paper we propose a criterion, nicknamed discrepancy principle for Poisson data, that applies to both denoising and deblurring problems and fits quite naturally the statistical properties of the data. The main purpose of the paper is to establish conditions, on the data and the imaging matrix, ensuring that the proposed criterion does actually provide a unique value of the regularization parameter for various classes of regularization functions. A few numerical experiments are performed to demonstrate its effectiveness. More extensive numerical analysis and comparison with other proposed criteria will be the object of future work.
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