Feature-based matching methods have been widely used in remote sensing image matching given their capability to achieve excellent performance despite image geometric and radiometric distortions. However, most of the feature-based methods are unreliable for complex background variations, because the gradient or other image grayscale information used to construct the feature descriptor is sensitive to image background variations. Recently, deep learning-based methods have been proven suitable for high-level feature representation and comparison in image matching. Inspired by the progresses made in deep learning, a new technical framework for remote sensing image matching based on the Siamese convolutional neural network is presented in this paper. First, a Siamese-type network architecture is designed to simultaneously learn the features and the corresponding similarity metric from labeled training examples of matching and non-matching true-color patch pairs. In the proposed network, two streams of convolutional and pooling layers sharing identical weights are arranged without the manually designed features. The number of convolutional layers is determined based on the factors that affect image matching. The sigmoid function is employed to compute the matching and non-matching probabilities in the output layer. Second, a gridding sub-pixel Harris algorithm is used to obtain the accurate localization of candidate matches. Third, a Gaussian pyramid coupling quadtree is adopted to gradually narrow down the searching space of the candidate matches, and multiscale patches are compared synchronously. Subsequently, a similarity measure based on the output of the sigmoid is adopted to find the initial matches. Finally, the random sample consensus algorithm and the whole-to-local quadratic polynomial constraints are used to remove false matches. In the experiments, different types of satellite datasets, such as ZY3, GF1, IKONOS, and Google Earth images, with complex background variations are used to evaluate the performance of the proposed method. The experimental results demonstrate that the proposed method, which can significantly improve the matching performance of multi-temporal remote sensing images with complex background variations, is better than the state-of-the-art matching methods. In our experiments, the proposed method obtained a large number of evenly distributed matches (at least 10 times more than other methods) and achieved a high accuracy (less than 1 pixel in terms of root mean square error).
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