Computer vision, Crowds, Motion, Particle image velocimetry, Simulation methods


The need exists for finding a quantitative method for validating crowd simulations. One approach is to use optical flow of videos of real crowds to obtain velocities that can be used for comparison to simulations. Optical flow, in turn, needs to be calibrated to be useful. It is essential to show that optical flow velocities obtained from crowd videos can be mapped into the spatially averaged velocities of the observed trajectories of crowd members, and to quantify the extent of the correlation of the results. This research investigates methods to uncover the best conditions for a good correlation between optical flow and the average motion of individuals in crowd videos, with the aim that this will help in the quantitative validation of simulations. The first approach was to use a simple linear proportionality relation, with a single coefficient, alpha, between velocity vector of the optical flow and observed velocity of crowd members in a video or simulation. Since there are many variables that affect alpha, an attempt was made to find the best possible conditions for determining alpha, by varying experimental and optical flow settings. The measure of a good alpha was chosen to be that alpha does not vary excessively over a number of video frames. Best conditions of low coefficient of variation of alpha using the Lucas-Kanade optical flow algorithm were found to be when a larger aperture of 15x15 pixels was used, combined with a smaller threshold. Adequate results were found at cell size 40x40 pixels; the improvement in detecting details when smaller cells are used did not reduce the variability of alpha, and required much more computing power. Reduction iii in variability of alpha can be obtained by spreading the tracked location of a crowd member from a pixel into a rectangle. The Particle Image Velocimetry optical flow algorithm had better correspondence with the velocity vectors of manually tracked crowd members than results obtained using the Lukas-Kanade method. Here, also, it was found that 40x40 pixel cells were better than 15x15. A second attempt at quantifying the correlation between optical flow and actual crowd member velocities was studied using simulations. Two processes were researched, which utilized geometrical correction of the perspective distortion of the crowd videos. One process geometrically corrects the video, and then obtains optical flow data. The other obtains optical flow data from video, and then geometrically corrects the data. The results indicate that the first process worked better. Correlation was calculated between sets of data obtained from the average of twenty frames. This was found to be higher than calculating correlations between the velocities of cells in each pair of frames. An experiment was carried out to predict crowd tracks using optical flow and a calculated parameter, beta, seems to give promising results.


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Graduation Date





Kaup, David


Master of Science (M.S.)


College of Sciences

Degree Program

Modeling and Simulation








Length of Campus-only Access


Access Status

Masters Thesis (Open Access)


Dissertations, Academic -- Sciences, Sciences -- Dissertations, Academic