visual recognition, action recognition, scene recognition, pattern recognition


Visual recognition (e.g., object, scene and action recognition) is an active area of research in computer vision due to its increasing number of real-world applications such as video (image) indexing and search, intelligent surveillance, human-machine interaction, robot navigation, etc. Effective modeling of the objects, scenes and actions is critical for visual recognition. Recently, bag of visual words (BoVW) representation, in which the image patches or video cuboids are quantized into visual words (i.e., mid-level features) based on their appearance similarity using clustering, has been widely and successfully explored. The advantages of this representation are: no explicit detection of objects or object parts and their tracking are required; the representation is somewhat tolerant to within-class deformations, and it is efficient for matching. However, the performance of the BoVW is sensitive to the size of the visual vocabulary. Therefore, computationally expensive cross-validation is needed to find the appropriate quantization granularity. This limitation is partially due to the fact that the visual words are not semantically meaningful. This limits the effectiveness and compactness of the representation. To overcome these shortcomings, in this thesis we present principled approach to learn a semantic vocabulary (i.e. high-level features) from a large amount of visual words (mid-level features). In this context, the thesis makes two major contributions. First, we have developed an algorithm to discover a compact yet discriminative semantic vocabulary. This vocabulary is obtained by grouping the visual-words based on their distribution in videos (images) into visual-word clusters. The mutual information (MI) be- tween the clusters and the videos (images) depicts the discriminative power of the semantic vocabulary, while the MI between visual-words and visual-word clusters measures the compactness of the vocabulary. We apply the information bottleneck (IB) algorithm to find the optimal number of visual-word clusters by finding the good tradeoff between compactness and discriminative power. We tested our proposed approach on the state-of-the-art KTH dataset, and obtained average accuracy of 94.2%. However, this approach performs one-side clustering, because only visual words are clustered regardless of which video they appear in. In order to leverage the co-occurrence of visual words and images, we have developed the co-clustering algorithm to simultaneously group the visual words and images. We tested our approach on the publicly available fifteen scene dataset and have obtained about 4% increase in the average accuracy compared to the one side clustering approaches. Second, instead of grouping the mid-level features, we first embed the features into a low-dimensional semantic space by manifold learning, and then perform the clustering. We apply Diffusion Maps (DM) to capture the local geometric structure of the mid-level feature space. The DM embedding is able to preserve the explicitly defined diffusion distance, which reflects the semantic similarity between any two features. Furthermore, the DM provides multi-scale analysis capability by adjusting the time steps in the Markov transition matrix. The experiments on KTH dataset show that DM can perform much better (about 3% to 6% improvement in average accuracy) than other manifold learning approaches and IB method. Above methods use only single type of features. In order to combine multiple heterogeneous features for visual recognition, we further propose the Fielder Embedding to capture the complicated semantic relationships between all entities (i.e., videos, images,heterogeneous features). The discovered relationships are then employed to further increase the recognition rate. We tested our approach on Weizmann dataset, and achieved about 17% 21% improvements in the average accuracy.


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Graduation Date



Shah, Mubarak


Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


College of Engineering and Computer Science


Electrical Engineering and Computer Science

Degree Program

Computer Science








Release Date

February 2010

Length of Campus-only Access


Access Status

Doctoral Dissertation (Open Access)