Proc. SPIE'98 1998

Psychophysical studies of the performance of an image database retrieval system

Thomas V. Papathomas and Tiffany E. Conway and Ingemar J. Cox and Joumana Ghosn and Matt L. Miller and Thomas P. Minka and and Peter N. Yianilos

Abstract: We describe psychophysical experiments conducted to study PicHunter, a content-based image retrieval (CBIR) system. Experiment 1 studies the importance of using (a) semantic information, (b) memory of earlier input, and, (c) relative, rather than absolute, judgments of image similarity. The target testing paradigm is used in which a user must search for an image identical to a target. We find that the best performance comes from a version of PicHunter that uses only semantic cues, with memory and relative similarity judgments. Second best is use of both pictorial and semantic cues, with memory and relative similarity judgments.

Most reports of CBIR systems provide only qualitative measures of performance based on how similar retrieved images are to a target. Experiment 2 puts PicHunter into this context with a more rigorous test. We first establish a baseline for our database by measuring the time required to find an image that is similar to a target when the images are presented in random order. Although PicHunter's performance is measurably better than this, the test is weak because even random presentation of images yields reasonably short search times. This casts doubt on the strength of results given in other reports where no baseline is established. __begin_keywords content-based image retrieval (CBIR), image similarity, image annotation, image semantics.