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Scalable image search based on visual similarity has been an active topic of research in recent years. State-of-the-art solutions often use hashing methods to embed high-dimensional image features into Hamming space, where search can be performed in real-time based on Hamming distance of compact hash codes. Unlike traditional metrics (e.g., Euclidean) that offer continuous distances, the Hamming distances are discrete integer values. As a consequence, there are often a large number of images sharing equal Hamming distances to a query, which largely hurts search results where fine-grained ranking is very important. This paper introduces an approach that enables query-adaptive ranking of the returned images with equal Hamming distances to the queries. This is achieved by firstly offline learning bitwise weights of the hash codes for a diverse set of predefined semantic concept classes. We formulate the weight learning process as a quadratic programming problem that minimizes intra-class distance while preserving inter-class relationship captured by original raw image features. Query-adaptive weights are then computed online by evaluating the proximity between a query and the semantic concept classes. With the query-adaptive bitwise weights, returned images can be easily ordered by weighted Hamming distance at a finer-grained hash code level rather than the original Hamming distance level. Experiments on a Flickr image dataset show clear improvements from our proposed approach.
Date of Publication: Feb. 2013