The epipolar constraint restricts the search range for a corresponding point in one image to the epipolar line in the other image. It imposes no restrictions on the object geometry other that the reconstructed object point lays on the line of sight from the projection center of and through the corresponding point as seen in Figure 7.14(left). The search for the corresponding point is restricted to the epipolar line but no restrictions are imposed along the search line.
If we now think of the epipolar constraint as being a plane spanned by the line of sight and the baseline connecting the camera projection centers, then we will find the epipolar line by intersecting the image plane with this epipolar plane.
This plane also intersects the image plane and it cuts a 3D profile out of the surface of the scene objects. The profile projects onto the corresponding epipolar lines in and where it forms an ordered set of neighboring correspondences, as indicated in Figure 7.14 (right).
For well behaved surfaces this ordering is preserved and delivers an additional constraint, known as 'ordering constraint'. Scene constraints like this can be applied by making weak assumptions about the object geometry. In many real applications the observed objects will be opaque and composed out of piecewise continuous surfaces. If this restriction holds then additional constraints can be imposed on the correspondence estimation. Koschan listed as many as 12 different constraints for correspondence estimation in stereo pairs. Of them, the most important apart from the epipolar constraint are:
All above mentioned constraints operate along the epipolar lines which may have an arbitrary orientation in the image planes. The matching procedure is greatly simplified if the image pair is rectified to a standard geometry. How this can be achieved for an arbitrary image pair is explained in the Section 7.1.2. In standard geometry both image planes are coplanar and the epipoles are projected to infinity. The rectified image planes are oriented such that the epipolar lines coincide with the image scan lines. This corresponds to a camera translated in the direction of the -axis of the image. An example is shown in figure 7.15. In this case the image displacements between the two images or disparities are purely horizontal.