The so-called General Adaptive Neighborhood Image Processing (GANIP) approach is presented in a two parts paper dealing respectively with its theoretical and practical aspects. The Adaptive Neighborhood (AN) paradigm allows the building of new image processing transformations using context-dependent analysis. Such operators are no longer spatially invariant, but vary over the whole image with ANs as adaptive operational windows, taking intrinsically into account the local image features. This AN concept is here largely extended, using well-defined mathematical concepts, to that General Adaptive Neighborhood (GAN) in two main ways. Firstly, an analyzing criterion is added within the definition of the ANs in order to consider the radiometric, morphological or geometrical characteristics of the image, allowing a more significant spatial analysis to be addressed. Secondly, general linear image processing frameworks are introduced in the GAN approach, using concepts of abstract linear algebra, so as to develop operators that are consistent with the physical and/or physiological settings of the image to be processed. In this paper, the GANIP approach is more particularly studied in the context of Mathematical Morphology (MM). The structuring elements, required for MM, are substituted by GAN-based structuring elements, fitting to the local contextual details of the studied image. The resulting transforms perform a relevant spatially-adaptive image processing, in an intrinsic manner, that is to say without a priori knowledge needed about the image structures. Moreover, in several important and practical cases, the adaptive morphological operators are connected, which is an overwhelming advantage compared to the usual ones that fail to this property.
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