The invention describes a method for representing geometry information to utilise for scalable coding of piecewise smooth spatial data sets. The method may also be applicable to vector data such as motion, where this data tends to exhibit piecewise smooth characteristics. The hierarchical geometry representation detailed in this invention is spatially scalable and amenable to embedded quantization and coding techniques. These features enable the geometry representation to be incorporated into highly scalable image coding schemes to attain efficient compression and output bit-streams with embedded resolution and quality scalability. Central elements of the invention are: the hierarchical representation of geometry information which describe points of discontinuity in the input data set; a rate-distortion driven estimation process to construct the geometry representation; a process to prioritize the geometry information in accordance to its influence on compression performance; and methods for efficient coding of the geometry information that facilitates resolution and quality scalability.
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