Towards Developing Computer Vision Algorithms and Architectures for Real-world Applications

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Computer vision technology automatically extracts high level, meaningful information from visual data such as images or videos, and the object recognition and detection algorithms are essential in most computer vision applications. In this dissertation, we focus on developing algorithms used

Computer vision technology automatically extracts high level, meaningful information from visual data such as images or videos, and the object recognition and detection algorithms are essential in most computer vision applications. In this dissertation, we focus on developing algorithms used for real life computer vision applications, presenting innovative algorithms for object segmentation and feature extraction for objects and actions recognition in video data, and sparse feature selection algorithms for medical image analysis, as well as automated feature extraction using convolutional neural network for blood cancer grading.

To detect and classify objects in video, the objects have to be separated from the background, and then the discriminant features are extracted from the region of interest before feeding to a classifier. Effective object segmentation and feature extraction are often application specific, and posing major challenges for object detection and classification tasks. In this dissertation, we address effective object flow based ROI generation algorithm for segmenting moving objects in video data, which can be applied in surveillance and self driving vehicle areas. Optical flow can also be used as features in human action recognition algorithm, and we present using optical flow feature in pre-trained convolutional neural network to improve performance of human action recognition algorithms. Both algorithms outperform the state-of-the-arts at their time.

Medical images and videos pose unique challenges for image understanding mainly due to the fact that the tissues and cells are often irregularly shaped, colored, and textured, and hand selecting most discriminant features is often difficult, thus an automated feature selection method is desired. Sparse learning is a technique to extract the most discriminant and representative features from raw visual data. However, sparse learning with \textit{L1} regularization only takes the sparsity in feature dimension into consideration; we improve the algorithm so it selects the type of features as well; less important or noisy feature types are entirely removed from the feature set. We demonstrate this algorithm to analyze the endoscopy images to detect unhealthy abnormalities in esophagus and stomach, such as ulcer and cancer. Besides sparsity constraint, other application specific constraints and prior knowledge may also need to be incorporated in the loss function in sparse learning to obtain the desired results. We demonstrate how to incorporate similar-inhibition constraint, gaze and attention prior in sparse dictionary selection for gastroscopic video summarization that enable intelligent key frame extraction from gastroscopic video data. With recent advancement in multi-layer neural networks, the automatic end-to-end feature learning becomes feasible. Convolutional neural network mimics the mammal visual cortex and can extract most discriminant features automatically from training samples. We present using convolutinal neural network with hierarchical classifier to grade the severity of Follicular Lymphoma, a type of blood cancer, and it reaches 91\% accuracy, on par with analysis by expert pathologists.

Developing real world computer vision applications is more than just developing core vision algorithms to extract and understand information from visual data; it is also subject to many practical requirements and constraints, such as hardware and computing infrastructure, cost, robustness to lighting changes and deformation, ease of use and deployment, etc.The general processing pipeline and system architecture for the computer vision based applications share many similar design principles and architecture. We developed common processing components and a generic framework for computer vision application, and a versatile scale adaptive template matching algorithm for object detection. We demonstrate the design principle and best practices by developing and deploying a complete computer vision application in real life, building a multi-channel water level monitoring system, where the techniques and design methodology can be generalized to other real life applications. The general software engineering principles, such as modularity, abstraction, robust to requirement change, generality, etc., are all demonstrated in this research.