Date on Master's Thesis/Doctoral Dissertation


Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph. D.


Computer Engineering and Computer Science

Committee Chair

Frigui, Hichem

Author's Keywords

Machine learning; Image annotation; Data mining; Clustering; Image retrieval


Images, Photographic--Databases; Image processing--Digital techniques; Data mining; Cluster analysis


The performance of content-based image retrieval systems has proved to be inherently constrained by the used low level features, and cannot give satisfactory results when the user's high level concepts cannot be expressed by low level features. In an attempt to bridge this semantic gap, recent approaches started integrating both low level-visual features and high-level textual keywords. Unfortunately, manual image annotation is a tedious process and may not be possible for large image databases. In this thesis we propose a system for image retrieval that has three mains components. The first component of our system consists of a novel possibilistic clustering and feature weighting algorithm based on robust modeling of the Generalized Dirichlet (GD) finite mixture. Robust estimation of the mixture model parameters is achieved by incorporating two complementary types of membership degrees. The first one is a posterior probability that indicates the degree to which a point fits the estimated distribution. The second membership represents the degree of "typicality" and is used to indentify and discard noise points. Robustness to noisy and irrelevant features is achieved by transforming the data to make the features independent and follow Beta distribution, and learning optimal relevance weight for each feature subset within each cluster. We extend our algorithm to find the optimal number of clusters in an unsupervised and efficient way by exploiting some properties of the possibilistic membership function. We also outline a semi-supervised version of the proposed algorithm. In the second component of our system consists of a novel approach to unsupervised image annotation. Our approach is based on: (i) the proposed semi-supervised possibilistic clustering; (ii) a greedy selection and joining algorithm (GSJ); (iii) Bayes rule; and (iv) a probabilistic model that is based on possibilistic memebership degrees to annotate an image. The third component of the proposed system consists of an image retrieval framework based on multi-modal similarity propagation. The proposed framework is designed to deal with two data modalities: low-level visual features and high-level textual keywords generated by our proposed image annotation algorithm. The multi-modal similarity propagation system exploits the mutual reinforcement of relational data and results in a nonlinear combination of the different modalities. Specifically, it is used to learn the semantic similarities between images by leveraging the relationships between features from the different modalities. The proposed image annotation and retrieval approaches are implemented and tested with a standard benchmark dataset. We show the effectiveness of our clustering algorithm to handle high dimensional and noisy data. We compare our proposed image annotation approach to three state-of-the-art methods and demonstrate the effectiveness of the proposed image retrieval system.