What is an indexed image?

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Nathan L
Nathan L on 8 Jun 2016
Edited: Stephen on 8 Jun 2016
What is indexed image and what does map do with indexed image?

Accepted Answer

Stephen on 8 Jun 2016
Edited: Stephen on 8 Jun 2016
There are very good and thorough explanations online:
In a nutshell: imagine that you have an image with just two colors, blue and red. Encoding this simple image in a way that can represent every possible RGB color would be totally unnecessary and a waste of memory... so instead you can simply index the colors by defining a map of colors (which defines as many colors as the image has):
map = [
0,0,1; % blue;
1,0,0; % red
And then the image matrix consists simply of indices into this map:
img =
So every 2 in the image matrix uses the color specified by the second row of the map, etc.. So you can recreate the the pixel colors of the image:
For a limited set of colors this method can take up a lot less memory than specifying the complete RGB for every pixel. Usually the order of the index is arbitrary, but specific to that image. Read the documentation for a more detailed explanation with lots of examples!

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