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Although relevance feedback (RF) has been extensively studied in the content-based image retrieval community, no commercial Web image search engines support RF because of scalability, efficiency, and effectiveness issues. In this paper, we propose a unified relevance feedback framework for Web image retrieval. Our framework shows advantage over traditional RF mechanisms in the following three aspects. First, during the RF process, both textual feature and visual feature are used in a sequential way. To seamlessly combine textual feature-based RF and visual feature-based RF, a query concept-dependent fusion strategy is automatically learned. Second, the textual feature-based RF mechanism employs an effective search result clustering (SRC) algorithm to obtain salient phrases, based on which we could construct an accurate and low-dimensional textual space for the resulting Web images. Thus, we could integrate RF into Web image retrieval in a practical way. Last, a new user interface (UI) is proposed to support implicit RF. On the one hand, unlike traditional RF UI which enforces users to make explicit judgment on the results, the new UI regards the users' click-through data as implicit relevance feedback in order to release burden from the users. On the other hand, unlike traditional RF UI which hardily substitutes subsequent results for previous ones, a recommendation scheme is used to help the users better understand the feedback process and to mitigate the possible waiting caused by RF. Experimental results on a database consisting of nearly three million Web images show that the proposed framework is wieldy, scalable, and effective.
Date of Publication: June 2009