Understanding the subjective meaning of a visual query, by converting it into numerical parameters that can be extracted and compared by a computer, is the paramount challenge in the field of intelligent image retrieval, also referred to as the “semantic gap” problem. In this paper, an innovative approach is proposed that combines a relevance feedback (RF) approach with an evolutionary stochastic algorithm, called particle swarm optimizer (PSO), as a way to grasp user’s semantics through optimized iterative learning. The retrieval uses human interaction to achieve a twofold goal: 1) to guide the swarm particles in the exploration of the solution space towards the cluster of relevant images; 2) to dynamically modify the feature space by appropriately weighting the descriptive features according to the users’ perception of relevance. Extensive simulations showed that the proposed technique outperforms traditional deterministic RF approaches of the same class, thanks to its stochastic nature, which allows a better exploration of complex, nonlinear, and highly-dimensional solution spaces.
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