Spherical Harmonics (SH) are functions defined on the sphere. A collection of SH can used as a basis function to represent and reconstruct any function on the surface of a unit sphere.

Spherical harmonics are ortho-normal functions defined by:

\[Y_l^m(\theta, \phi) = (-1)^m \sqrt{\frac{2l + 1}{4 \pi} \frac{(l - m)!}{(l + m)!}} P_l^m( cos \theta) e^{i m \phi}\]

where \(l\) is the band index, \(m\) is the order, \(P_l^m\) is an associated \(l\)-th degree, \(m\)-th order Legendre polynomial, and \((\theta, \phi)\) is the representation of the direction vector in the spherical coordinate.

A function \(f(\theta, \phi)\) can be represented using a spherical harmonics basis using the spherical harmonics coefficients \(a_l^m\), which can be computed using the expression:

\[a_l^m = \int_S f(\theta, \phi) Y_l^m(\theta, \phi) ds\]

Once the coefficients are computed, the function \(f(\theta, \phi)\) can be approximately computed as:

\[f(\theta, \phi) = \sum_{l = 0}^{\inf} \sum_{m = -l}^{l} a^m_l Y_l^m(\theta, \phi)\]

In HARDI, the Orientation Distribution Function (ODF) is a function on the sphere.

Several Spherical Harmonics bases have been proposed in the diffusion imaging
literature for the computation of the ODF. DIPY implements two of these in the
`shm`

module tool set:

The basis proposed by Descoteaux

*et al.*1:

\[\begin{split}Y_i(\theta, \phi) =
\begin{cases}
\sqrt{2} \Re(Y_l^m(\theta, \phi)) & -l \leq m < 0, \\
Y_l^0(\theta, \phi) & m = 0, \\
\sqrt{2} \Im(Y_l^m(\theta, \phi)) & 0 < m \leq l
\end{cases}\end{split}\]

The basis proposed by Tournier

*et al.*2:

\[\begin{split}Y_i(\theta, \phi) =
\begin{cases}
\Re(Y_l^m(\theta, \phi)) & -l \leq m < 0, \\
Y_k^0(\theta, \phi) & m = 0, \\
\Im(Y_{|l|}^m(\theta, \phi)) & 0 < m \leq l
\end{cases}\end{split}\]

In both cases, \(\Re\) denotes the real part of the spherical harmonic basis, and \(\Im\) denotes the imaginary part.

In practice, a maximum even order \(k\) is chosen such that \(k \leq l\). The choice of an even order is motivated by the symmetry of the diffusion process around the origin.

Descoteaux *et al.* 1 use the Q-Ball Imaging (QBI) formalization to recover
the ODF, while Tournier *et al.* 2 use the Spherical Deconvolution (SD)
framework to recover the ODF.

- 1(1,2)
Descoteaux, M., Angelino, E., Fitzgibbons, S. and Deriche, R. Regularized, Fast, and Robust Analytical Q‐ball Imaging. Magn. Reson. Med. 2007;58:497-510.

- 2(1,2)
Tournier J.D., Calamante F. and Connelly A. Robust determination of the fibre orientation distribution in diffusion MRI: Non-negativity constrained super-resolved spherical deconvolution. NeuroImage. 2007;35(4):1459–1472.