Image Database Retrieval


Final Progress Report: June 30, 2000

Paul Viola


Project Overview

In this research project we created systems that can scan images and video to locate items of interest. For example, such a system should be able to scan a travel documentary for images of distinct locations and objects, like ``Buddhist temples'', ``gothic cathedrals'', or ``statues on horseback''. We believe that by leveraging our existing work in this area, we can play a key role in setting the standard for research in visual information retrieval. At the same time, this research provides an excellent opportunity for transition to practical applications

Overview of Progress Through June 2000

We have made progress on several problems related to the core goals of the Image Database retrieval problems:

We believe that this approach is actually quite general and will allow us to detect more complex patterns, such as the appearance of the human body. This problem is very hard because of the variety of poses that the human body can assume. Faces and people are a critical aspect of image databases.

We have created a mechanism of computing features of this type called "Complex Features". A retrieval system based on this insight works much better than previous systems. The algorithms for constructed this feature set, and the query system itself, is computationally efficient.


These images show the operation of two complex features on four images. On the left is a complex feature that is useful in detecting tiger stripes. It is sequence of 3 operations, ‘center-surround’ followed by ‘vertical edges’ followed by ‘horizontal edges’. Note that it responds more strongly to a tiger than to a waterfall. On the right is a Cathedral feature operating on an image of a cathedral as well as an outdoor scene containing many of the same elements (such as sky, and a great deal of texture).

We have constructed a system that can automatically interpret mathematical expressions in such documents. This provides a new mechanism for searching technical documents. Based on the same ideas we have built an interactive handwritten mathematical expression recognizer. The system provides a friendly and intuitive interface for the entry of mathematical expressions.