The Insight Segmentation and Registration Toolkit, known as ITK, celebrated its 14th birthday last week with a Hackathon aimed at addressing outstanding issues in the code base. The dedicated ITK development team, working both locally in the Kitware Clifton Park offices and web conferencing in from around the work, submitted 34 patches over the course of the day, and shared stories of the early days of the ITK project.
ITK began in 1999 with a contract for the development of an open-source registration and segmentation toolkit from the US National Library of Medicine (NLM). Dr. Terry Yoo, the Project Manager at NLM, organized the six main contractors that comprised the Insight Software Consortium: GE Corporate R&D, Kitware, Inc., MathSoft (now known as Insightful), the University of North Carolina (UNC), the University of Tennessee (UT), and the University of Pennsylvania (UPenn).
Dr. Yoo’s vision for the ITK project was to create a repository of fundamental algorithms that would form the basis of future research in the areas of medical image registration and segmentation, and to grow a self-sustaining community around this toolkit. With nearly 70 developers contributing over 1400 commits to the code base in the last year, and over 1000 downloads of the software per week, ITK has achieved these goals.
According to Kitware’s Luis Ibáñez and Matt McCormick, the future of ITK includes enhancing support for ARM architectures and advancing infrastructure in order to keep pace with upstream third party libraries. The members of Kitware’s team also project that, in the future, ITK will not only develop thread pools that will improve the application of many-core architectures, but the software will also offer reliable interpreted language wrapping for all platforms, methods of recognizing contributions from the community, and upgraded documentation in design, architecture, and algorithms.
ITK’s funding comes predominantly from the US National Library of Medicine, and has been supplemented with funding from other Institutes from the National Institutes of Health, the NSF, the DoD (TATRC) program, and a variety of commercial development contracts. Relevant federal contract numbers are N01-LM-9-3531, N01-LM-9-3532, N01-LM-0-3501, N01-LM-0-3502, N01-LM-0-3503, N01-LM-0-3504, and N276201000490P.