content-based image retrieval, relevance feedback, target search, index structures, support vector machines, support concurrent accesses


In content-based image retrieval (CBIR) systems, there are two general types of search: target search and category search. Unlike queries in traditional database systems, users in most cases cannot specify an ideal query to retrieve the desired results for either target search or category search in multimedia database systems, and have to rely on iterative feedback to refine their query. Efficient evaluation of such iterative queries can be a challenge, especially when the multimedia database contains a large number of entries, and the search needs many iterations, and when the underlying distance measure is computationally expensive. The overall processing costs, including CPU and disk I/O, are further emphasized if there are numerous concurrent accesses. To address these limitations involved in relevance feedback processing, we propose a generic framework, including a query model, index structures, and query optimization techniques. Specifically, this thesis has five main contributions as follows. The first contribution is an efficient target search technique. We propose four target search methods: naive random scan (NRS), local neighboring movement (LNM), neighboring divide-and-conquer (NDC), and global divide-and-conquer (GDC) methods. All these methods are built around a common strategy: they do not retrieve checked images (i.e., shrink the search space). Furthermore, NDC and GDC exploit Voronoi diagrams to aggressively prune the search space and move towards target images. We theoretically and experimentally prove that the convergence speeds of GDC and NDC are much faster than those of NRS and recent methods. The second contribution is a method to reduce the number of expensive distance computation when answering k-NN queries with non-metric distance measures. We propose an efficient distance mapping function that transfers non-metric measures into metric, and still preserves the original distance orderings. Then existing metric index structures (e.g., M-tree) can be used to reduce the computational cost by exploiting the triangular inequality property. The third contribution is an incremental query processing technique for Support Vector Machines (SVMs). SVMs have been widely used in multimedia retrieval to learn a concept in order to find the best matches. SVMs, however, suffer from the scalability problem associated with larger database sizes. To address this limitation, we propose an efficient query evaluation technique by employing incremental update. The proposed technique also takes advantage of a tuned index structure to efficiently prune irrelevant data. As a result, only a small portion of the data set needs to be accessed for query processing. This index structure also provides an inexpensive means to process the set of candidates to evaluate the final query result. This technique can work with different kernel functions and kernel parameters. The fourth contribution is a method to avoid local optimum traps. Existing CBIR systems, designed around query refinement based on relevance feedback, suffer from local optimum traps that may severely impair the overall retrieval performance. We therefore propose a simulated annealing-based approach to address this important issue. When a stuck-at-a-local-optimum occurs, we employ a neighborhood search technique (i.e., simulated annealing) to continue the search for additional matching images, thus escaping from the local optimum. We also propose an index structure to speed up such neighborhood search. Finally, the fifth contribution is a generic framework to support concurrent accesses. We develop new storage and query processing techniques to exploit sequential access and leverage inter-query concurrency to share computation. Our experimental results, based on the Corel dataset, indicate that the proposed optimization can significantly reduce average response time while achieving better precision and recall, and is scalable to support a large user community. This latter performance characteristic is largely neglected in existing systems making them less suitable for large-scale deployment. With the growing interest in Internet-scale image search applications, our framework offers an effective solution to the scalability problem.


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Graduation Date



Hua, Kien A.


Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


College of Engineering and Computer Science


Electrical Engineering and Computer Science

Degree Program

Computer Science








Release Date

September 2009

Length of Campus-only Access


Access Status

Doctoral Dissertation (Open Access)