## Neural Computation

We describe a local parallel method for computing the stochastic completion field introduced in the previous article (Williams and Jacobs, 1997). The stochastic completion field represents the likelihood that a completion joining two contour fragments passes through any given position and orientation in the image plane. It is based on the assumption that the prior probability distribution of completion shape can be modeled as a random walk in a lattice of discrete positions and orientations. The local parallel method can be interpreted as a stable finite difference scheme for solving the underlying Fokker-Planck equation identified by Mumford (1994). The resulting algorithm is significantly faster than the previously employed method, which relied on convolution with large-kernel filters computed by Monte Carlo simulation. The complexity of the new method is *O* (*n ^{3}*

*m*), while that of the previous algorithm was

*O*(

*n*

^{4}*m*(for an

^{2}*n × n*image with

*m*discrete orientations). Perhaps most significant, the use of a local method allows us to model the probability distribution of completion shape using stochastic processes that are neither homogeneous nor isotropic. For example, it is possible to modulate particle decay rate by a directional function of local image brightnesses (i.e., anisotropic decay). The effect is that illusory contours can be made to respect the local image brightness structure. Finally, we note that the new method is more plausible as a neural model since (1) unlike the previous method, it can be computed in a sparse, locally connected network, and (2) the network dynamics are consistent with psychophysical measurements of the time course of illusory contour formation.