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Reduced-reference (RR) image quality assessment (IQA) has been recognized as an effective and efficient way to predict the visual quality of distorted images. The current standard is the wavelet-domain natural image statistics model (WNISM), which applies the Kullback-Leibler divergence between the marginal distributions of wavelet coefficients of the reference and distorted images to measure the image distortion. However, WNISM fails to consider the statistical correlations of wavelet coefficients in different subbands and the visual response characteristics of the mammalian cortical simple cells. In addition, wavelet transforms are optimal greedy approximations to extract singularity structures, so they fail to explicitly extract the image geometric information, e.g., lines and curves. Finally, wavelet coefficients are dense for smooth image edge contours. In this paper, to target the aforementioned problems in IQA, we develop a novel framework for IQA to mimic the human visual system (HVS) by incorporating the merits from multiscale geometric analysis (MGA), contrast sensitivity function (CSF), and the Weber's law of just noticeable difference (JND). In the proposed framework, MGA is utilized to decompose images and then extract features to mimic the multichannel structure of HVS. Additionally, MGA offers a series of transforms including wavelet, curvelet, bandelet, contourlet, wavelet-based contourlet transform (WBCT), and hybrid wavelets and directional filter banks (HWD), and different transforms capture different types of image geometric information. CSF is applied to weight coefficients obtained by MGA to simulate the appearance of images to observers by taking into account many of the nonlinearities inherent in HVS. JND is finally introduced to produce a noticeable variation in sensory experience. Thorough empirical studies are carried out upon the LIVE database against subjective mean opinion score (MOS) and demonstrate that 1) the proposed framework has - - good consistency with subjective perception values and the objective assessment results can well reflect the visual quality of images, 2) different transforms in MGA under the new framework perform better than the standard WNISM and some of them even perform better than the standard full-reference IQA model, i.e., the mean structural similarity index, and 3) HWD performs best among all transforms in MGA under the framework.
Date of Publication: July 2009