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Sensors 2017, 17(10), 2427; https://doi.org/10.3390/s17102427

A Novel Unsupervised Segmentation Quality Evaluation Method for Remote Sensing Images

1
Key Laboratory of Digital Earth Science, Institute of Remote Sensing and Digital Earth, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100094, China
2
University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049, China
*
Authors to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 29 August 2017 / Revised: 15 October 2017 / Accepted: 17 October 2017 / Published: 24 October 2017
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Spatial Analysis and Remote Sensing)
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Abstract

The segmentation of a high spatial resolution remote sensing image is a critical step in geographic object-based image analysis (GEOBIA). Evaluating the performance of segmentation without ground truth data, i.e., unsupervised evaluation, is important for the comparison of segmentation algorithms and the automatic selection of optimal parameters. This unsupervised strategy currently faces several challenges in practice, such as difficulties in designing effective indicators and limitations of the spectral values in the feature representation. This study proposes a novel unsupervised evaluation method to quantitatively measure the quality of segmentation results to overcome these problems. In this method, multiple spectral and spatial features of images are first extracted simultaneously and then integrated into a feature set to improve the quality of the feature representation of ground objects. The indicators designed for spatial stratified heterogeneity and spatial autocorrelation are included to estimate the properties of the segments in this integrated feature set. These two indicators are then combined into a global assessment metric as the final quality score. The trade-offs of the combined indicators are accounted for using a strategy based on the Mahalanobis distance, which can be exhibited geometrically. The method is tested on two segmentation algorithms and three testing images. The proposed method is compared with two existing unsupervised methods and a supervised method to confirm its capabilities. Through comparison and visual analysis, the results verified the effectiveness of the proposed method and demonstrated the reliability and improvements of this method with respect to other methods. View Full-Text
Keywords: high spatial resolution remote sensing; image segmentation; unsupervised segmentation evaluation; spatial stratified heterogeneity; statistical features high spatial resolution remote sensing; image segmentation; unsupervised segmentation evaluation; spatial stratified heterogeneity; statistical features
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Gao, H.; Tang, Y.; Jing, L.; Li, H.; Ding, H. A Novel Unsupervised Segmentation Quality Evaluation Method for Remote Sensing Images. Sensors 2017, 17, 2427.

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