Crowd analysis, dense crowds, counting, human detection, tracking


Visual analysis of dense crowds is particularly challenging due to large number of individuals, occlusions, clutter, and fewer pixels per person which rarely occur in ordinary surveillance scenarios. This dissertation aims to address these challenges in images and videos of extremely dense crowds containing hundreds to thousands of humans. The goal is to tackle the fundamental problems of counting, detecting and tracking people in such images and videos using visual and contextual cues that are automatically derived from the crowded scenes. For counting in an image of extremely dense crowd, we propose to leverage multiple sources of information to compute an estimate of the number of individuals present in the image. Our approach relies on sources such as low confidence head detections, repetition of texture elements (using SIFT), and frequency-domain analysis to estimate counts, along with confidence associated with observing individuals, in an image region. Furthermore, we employ a global consistency constraint on counts using Markov Random Field which caters for disparity in counts in local neighborhoods and across scales. We tested this approach on crowd images with the head counts ranging from 94 to 4543 and obtained encouraging results. Through this approach, we are able to count people in images of high-density crowds unlike previous methods which are only applicable to videos of low to medium density crowded scenes. However, the counting procedure just outputs a single number for a large patch or an entire image. With just the counts, it becomes difficult to measure the counting error for a query image with unknown number of people. For this, we propose to localize humans by finding repetitive patterns in the crowd image. Starting with detections from an underlying head detector, we correlate them within the image after their selection through several criteria: in a pre-defined grid, locally, or at multiple scales by automatically finding the patches that are most representative of recurring patterns in the crowd image. Finally, the set of generated hypotheses is selected using binary integer quadratic programming with Special Ordered Set (SOS) Type 1 constraints. Human Detection is another important problem in the analysis of crowded scenes where the goal is to place a bounding box on visible parts of individuals. Primarily applicable to images depicting medium to high density crowds containing several hundred humans, it is a crucial pre-requisite for many other visual tasks, such as tracking, action recognition or detection of anomalous behaviors, exhibited by individuals in a dense crowd. For detecting humans, we explore context in dense crowds in the form of locally-consistent scale prior which captures the similarity in scale in local neighborhoods with smooth variation over the image. Using the scale and confidence of detections obtained from an underlying human detector, we infer scale and confidence priors using Markov Random Field. In an iterative mechanism, the confidences of detections are modified to reflect consistency with the inferred priors, and the priors are updated based on the new detections. The final set of detections obtained are then reasoned for occlusion using Binary Integer Programming where overlaps and relations between parts of individuals are encoded as linear constraints. Both human detection and occlusion reasoning in this approach are solved with local neighbor-dependent constraints, thereby respecting the inter-dependence between individuals characteristic to dense crowd analysis. In addition, we propose a mechanism to detect different combinations of body parts without requiring annotations for individual combinations. Once human detection and localization is performed, we then use it for tracking people in dense crowds. Similar to the use of context as scale prior for human detection, we exploit it in the form of motion concurrence for tracking individuals in dense crowds. The proposed method for tracking provides an alternative and complementary approach to methods that require modeling of crowd flow. Simultaneously, it is less likely to fail in the case of dynamic crowd flows and anomalies by minimally relying on previous frames. The approach begins with the automatic identification of prominent individuals from the crowd that are easy to track. Then, we use Neighborhood Motion Concurrence to model the behavior of individuals in a dense crowd, this predicts the position of an individual based on the motion of its neighbors. When the individual moves with the crowd flow, we use Neighborhood Motion Concurrence to predict motion while leveraging five-frame instantaneous flow in case of dynamically changing flow and anomalies. All these aspects are then embedded in a framework which imposes hierarchy on the order in which positions of individuals are updated. The results are reported on eight sequences of medium to high density crowds and our approach performs on par with existing approaches without learning or modeling patterns of crowd flow. We experimentally demonstrate the efficacy and reliability of our algorithms by quantifying the performance of counting, localization, as well as human detection and tracking on new and challenging datasets containing hundreds to thousands of humans in a given scene.


If this is your thesis or dissertation, and want to learn how to access it or for more information about readership statistics, contact us at

Graduation Date





Shah, Mubarak


Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


College of Engineering and Computer Science


Computer Science

Degree Program

Computer Science








Release Date

December 2014

Length of Campus-only Access


Access Status

Doctoral Dissertation (Open Access)


Dissertations, Academic -- Engineering and Computer Science; Engineering and Computer Science -- Dissertations, Academic