Image database retrieval using neural networks
The broad objective of this work has been to achieve retrieval of images from large unconstrained databases using image content. The problem is typified by the need to locate a target image within a database where no numerical indexing terms exist. Here, retrieval is based on important features within in an image and uses sample images or user sketches to specify a query. A typical query might be framed as "Find all images similar to this one", for example. The aim of this work has been to show how neural networks can provide a practical, flexible and robust solution to this problem. A neural network is basically an adaptive information filter which can be used to extract the salient characteristics of a data set during a training phase. The transformation learnt by the network can map the images into compact indices which support very rapid fuzzy matching of images across the database. This learning process optimises the performance of the code with respect to the contents of the database. We assess the applicability of several neural network architectures and learning rules for a practical coding scheme and investigate how the system parameters affect the performance of the system. We introduce a novel learning law which has a number of advantages over existing paradigms. In-depth mathematical analysis and extensive empirical tests are used to corroborate the arguments presented throughout. This thesis aims to show the nature of the image retrieval problem, how current research trends attempt to tackle it and how neural networks can offer us a real alternative to conventional approaches.