Local competition-based superpixel segmentation algorithm in remote sensing

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Journal Article
Sensors (Switzerland), 2017, 17 (6)
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© 2017 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. Remote sensing technologies have been widely applied in urban environments’ monitoring, synthesis and modeling. Incorporating spatial information in perceptually coherent regions, superpixel-based approaches can effectively eliminate the “salt and pepper” phenomenon which is common in pixel-wise approaches. Compared with fixed-size windows, superpixels have adaptive sizes and shapes for different spatial structures. Moreover, superpixel-based algorithms can significantly improve computational efficiency owing to the greatly reduced number of image primitives. Hence, the superpixel algorithm, as a preprocessing technique, is more and more popularly used in remote sensing and many other fields. In this paper, we propose a superpixel segmentation algorithm called Superpixel Segmentation with Local Competition (SSLC), which utilizes a local competition mechanism to construct energy terms and label pixels. The local competition mechanism leads to energy terms locality and relativity, and thus, the proposed algorithm is less sensitive to the diversity of image content and scene layout. Consequently, SSLC could achieve consistent performance in different image regions. In addition, the Probability Density Function (PDF), which is estimated by Kernel Density Estimation (KDE) with the Gaussian kernel, is introduced to describe the color distribution of superpixels as a more sophisticated and accurate measure. To reduce computational complexity, a boundary optimization framework is introduced to only handle boundary pixels instead of the whole image. We conduct experiments to benchmark the proposed algorithm with the other state-of-the-art ones on the Berkeley Segmentation Dataset (BSD) and remote sensing images. Results demonstrate that the SSLC algorithm yields the best overall performance, while the computation time-efficiency is still competitive.
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