Google Research

Visual and Semantic Similarity in ImageNet

  • Thomas Deselaers
  • Vittorio Ferrari
IEEE Conference on Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition (CVPR) (2011), pp. 1777-1784


Many computer vision approaches take for granted positive answers to questions such as “Are semantic categories visually separable?” and “Is visual similarity correlated to semantic similarity?” In this paper, we study experimentally whether these assumptions hold and show parallels to questions investigated in cognitive science about the human visual system. The insights gained from our analysis enable building a novel distance function between images assessing whether they are from the same basic-level category. This function goes beyond direct visual distance as it also exploits semantic similarity measured through ImageNet. We demonstrate experimentally that it outperforms purely visual distances.

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