A New Look Into Image Classification: Bootstrap Approach
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Scene classification is performed on countless remote sensing images in support of operational activities. Automating this process is preferable since manual pixel-level classification is not feasible for large scenes. However, developing such an algorithmic solution is a challenging task due to both scene complexities and sensor limitations. The objective is to develop efficient and accurate unsupervised methods for classification (i.e., assigning each pixel to an appropriate generic class) and for labeling (i.e., properly assigning true labels to each class). Unique from traditional approaches, the proposed bootstrap approach achieves classification and labeling without training data. Here, the full image is partitioned into subimages and the true classes found in each subimage are provided by the user. After these steps, the rest of the process is automatic. Each subimage is individually classified into regions and then using the joint information from all subimages and regions the optimal configuration of labels is found based on an objective function based on a Markov random field (MRF) model. The bootstrap approach has been successfully demonstrated with SAR sea-ice and lake ice images which represent challenging scenes used operationally for ship navigation, climate study, and ice fraction estimation. Accuracy assessment is based on evaluation conducted by third party experts. The bootstrap method is also demonstrated using synthetic and natural images. The impact of this technique is a repeatable and accurate methodology that generates classified maps faster than the standard methodology.