The identification of sub-pixel components from remotely sensed data : an evaluation of an artificial neural network approach
Until recently, methodologies to extract sub-pixel information from remotely sensed data have focused on linear un-mixing models and so called fuzzy classifiers. Recent research has suggested that neural networks have the potential for providing sub- pixel information. Neural networks offer an attractive alternative as they are non- parametric, they are not restricted to any number of classes, they do not assume that the spectral signatures of pixel components mix linearly and they do not necessarily have to be trained with pure pixels. The thesis tests the validity of neural networks for extracting sub-pixel information using a combination of qualitative and quantitative analysis tools. Previously published experiments use data sets that are often limited in terms of numbers of pixels and numbers of classes. The data sets used in the thesis reflect the complexity of the landscape. Preparation for the experiments is canied out by analysing the data sets and establishing that the network is not sensitive to particular choices of parameters. Classification results using a conventional type of target with which to train the network show that the response of the network to mixed pixels is different from the response of the network to pure pixels. Different target types are then tested. Although targets which provide detailed compositional information produce higher accuracies of classification for subsidiary classes, there is a trade off between the added information and added complexity which can decrease classification accuracy. Overall, the results show that the network seems to be able to identify the classes that are present within pixels but not their proportions. Experiments with a very accurate data set show that the network behaves like a pattern matching algorithm and requires examples of mixed pixels in the training data set in order to estimate pixel compositions for unseen pixels. The network does not function like an unmixing model and cannot interpolate between pure classes.