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Most current content-based image retrieval systems are still incapable of providing users with their desired results. The major difficulty lies in the gap between low-level image features and high-level image semantics. To address the problem, this study reports a framework for effective image retrieval by employing a novel idea of memory learning. It forms a knowledge memory model to store the semantic information by simply accumulating user-provided interactions. A learning strategy is then applied to predict the semantic relationships among images according to the memorized knowledge. Image queries are finally performed based on a seamless combination of low-level features and learned semantics. One important advantage of our framework is its ability to efficiently annotate images and also propagate the keyword annotation from the labeled images to unlabeled images. The presented algorithm has been integrated into a practical image retrieval system. Experiments on a collection of 10 000 general-purpose images demonstrate the effectiveness of the proposed framework.