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This paper concerns task-based image quality assessment for the task of discriminating between two classes of images. We address the problem of estimating two widely-used detection performance measures, SNR and AUC, from a finite number of images, assuming that the class discrimination is performed with a channelized Hotelling observer. In particular, we investigate the advantage that can be gained when either 1) the means of the signal-absent and signal-present classes are both known, or 2) when the difference of class means is known. For these two scenarios, we propose uniformly minimum variance unbiased estimators of SNR2, derive the corresponding sampling distributions and provide variance expressions. In addition, we demonstrate how the bias and variance for the related AUC estimators may be calculated numerically by using the sampling distributions for the SNR2 estimators. We find that for both SNR2 and AUC, the new estimators have significantly lower bias and mean-square error than the traditional estimator, which assumes that the class means, and their difference, are unknown.
Date of Publication: Aug. 2009