Visual Diversification of Image Search Results

Presented at: 18th International World Wide Web Conference (WWW2009)

by Reinier H. van Leuken, Lluis Garcia, Ximena Olivares, Roelof van Zwol


Due to the reliance on the textual information associated with an image, image search engines on the Web lack the discriminative power to deliver visually diverse search results. The textual descriptions are key to retrieve relevant results for a given user query, but at the same time provide little information about the rich image content. In this paper we investigate three methods for visual diversification of image search results. The methods deploy lightweight clustering techniques in combination with a dynamic weighting function of the visual features, to best capture the discriminative aspects of the resulting set of images that is retrieved. A representative image is selected from each cluster, which together form a diverse result set. Based on a performance evaluation we find that the outcome of the methods closely resembles human perception of diversity, which was established in an extensive clustering experiment carried out by human assessors. models deployed on the Web and by these photo sharing sites rely heavily on search paradigms developed within the field Information Retrieval. This way, image retrieval can benefit from years of research experience, and the better this textual metadata captures the content of the image, the better the retrieval performance will be. It is also commonly acknowledged that a picture has to be seen to fully understand its meaning, significance, beauty, or context, simply because it conveys information that words can not capture, or at least not in any practical setting. This explains the large number of papers on content-based image retrieval (CBIR) that has been published since 1990, the breathtaking publication rates since 1997 [12], and the continuing interest in the field [4]. Moving on from simple low-level features to more discriminative descriptions, the field has come a long way in narrowing down the semantic gap by using high-level semantics [8]. Unfortunately, CBIR-methods using higher level semantics usually require extensive training, intricate object ontologies or expensive construction of a visual dictionary, and their performance remains unfit for use in large scale online applications such as the aforementioned search engines or websites. Consequently, retrieval models operating in the textual metadata domain are therefore deployed here. In these applications, image search results are usually displayed in a ranked list. This ranking reflects the similarity of the image's metadata to the textual query, according to the textual retrieval model of choice. There may exist two problems with this ranking. First, it may be lacking visual diversity. For instance, when a specific type or brand of car is issued as query, it may very well be that the top of this ranking displays many times the same picture that was released by the marketing division of the company. Similarly, pictures of a popular holiday destination tend to show the same touristic hot spot, often taken from the same angle and distance. This absence of visual diversity is due to the nature of the image annotation, which does not allow or motivate people to adequately describe the visual content of an image. Second, the query may have several aspects to it that are not sufficiently covered by the ranking. Perhaps the user is interested in a particular aspect of the query, but doesn't know how to express this explicitly and issues a broader, more general query. It could also be that a query yields so many different results, that it's hard to get an overview of the collection of relevant images in the database.

Keywords: Rich Media

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