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This paper presents an image segmentation method named Context-based Hierarchical Unequal Merging for Synthetic aperture radar (SAR) Image Segmentation (CHUMSIS), which uses superpixels as the operation units instead of pixels. Based on the Gestalt laws, three rules that realize a new and natural way to manage different kinds of features extracted from SAR images are proposed to represent superpixel context. The rules are prior knowledge from cognitive science and serve as top-down constraints to globally guide the superpixel merging. The features, including brightness, texture, edges, and spatial information, locally describe the superpixels of SAR images and are bottom-up forces. While merging superpixels, a hierarchical unequal merging algorithm is designed, which includes two stages: 1) coarse merging stage and 2) fine merging stage. The merging algorithm unequally allocates computation resources so as to spend less running time in the superpixels without ambiguity and more running time in the superpixels with ambiguity. Experiments on synthetic and real SAR images indicate that this algorithm can make a balance between computation speed and segmentation accuracy. Compared with two state-of-the-art Markov random field models, CHUMSIS can obtain good segmentation results and successfully reduce running time.
Geoscience and Remote Sensing, IEEE Transactions on (Volume:51 , Issue: 2 )
Date of Publication: Feb. 2013