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The success of a multimedia information system depends heavily on the way the data is represented. Although there are "natural" ways to represent numerical data, it is not clear what is a good way to represent multimedia data, such as images, video, or sound. We investigate various image representations where the quality of the representation is judged based on how well a system for searching through an image database can perform-although the same techniques and representations can be used for other types of object detection tasks or multimedia data analysis problems. The system is based on a machine learning method used to develop object detection models from example images that can subsequently be used for examples to detect-search-images of a particular object in an image database. As a base classifier for the detection task, we use support vector machines (SVM), a kernel based learning method. Within the framework of kernel classifiers, we investigate new image representations/kernels derived from probabilistic models of the class of images considered and present a new feature selection method which can be used to reduce the dimensionality of the image representation without significant losses in terms of the performance of the detection-search-system.