Object Detection via Random Subspace Classifiers in Partially Occluded Images

DOI : 10.17577/IJERTCONV2IS13116

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Object Detection via Random Subspace Classifiers in Partially Occluded Images

Irshad Ul Haq Najar

Dept. of Computer Science

H.K.B.K. College of Engineering Bangalore – 45

Abstract Object detection plays an important role in image processing. Several methods have been developed for detecting objects but they do not provide satisfactory result in cases of partially occluded objects in image frames. This paper describes a general method for object detection when there is a partial occlusion in still images. In this method we have developed classifiers using Random Subspace Method (RSM) to handle the partially occluded image frames. The classifiers handle images on both global level as well as local level to improve the detection performance. Using such classifiers increases detection rate when partial occlusions are present without compromising the detection rate of non-occluded data. The input image window is described as a block-based feature vector where each block is passed through a holistic level. On the basis of holistic responses for each block, local classifiers can be invoked to produce the final output. In contrast to many recent approaches, we propose a method which does not require manual labeling, defining any semantic spatial components, color based features, or any additional data coming from motion or stereo.

Index TermsObject detection, partial occlusion, random subspace method, classifiers.


Object detection is a challenging problem in vision based computer applications. Object detection involves identifying whether a known object is in an image frame and, if so, determining the location of the object. A good object-detection system should be able to determine the presence or absence of objects in arbitrary scenes and be invariant to object scaling and rotation, the camera viewpoint, and changes in illumination.

Object detection has got many applications in everyday life like robot sensing, surveillance systems and airport security, automatic driving and driver assistance systems in high-end cars, human-robot interaction and immersive, interactive entertainments, smart homes and assistance for senior citizens that live alone, and people-finding for military applications. The wide range of applications and underlying intellectual challenges of object detection have attracted many researchers and developers attention from the very early age of computer vision and image processing; and they continue to act as hot research topics in these fields. It is not an easy task to detect an object in an image frame because of wide variability of difficulties coming from the shape, size, colour and some other factors like illumination, visibility and partial occlusion.

Recent works address detection problem with different objectives, which broadly fall into two categories: specific and conceptual object detection. Specific detection involves the detection of a known object (such as a specific pillow or bottle), while the conceptual detection involves the detection of an object class of interest (such as faces and vehicles). The objective of this paper is to detect any type of object when there is a partial occlusion.

All the methods for object detection rely on the machine learning approach. There are two different issues in machine learning approach: extracting features [1]-[4], and classification through machine learning algorithms [1], [2], [5], [6].

The feature extraction scheme can be roughly classified into two categories. The first category models object shapes globally or densely over image locations, e.g., rectangular features in [1], histograms of oriented gradients (HOGs) in [2], an overcomplete set of Haar wavelet features in [7], or covariance descriptors in [8]. Global, dense feature-based approaches such as [2], [8] are designed to tolerate some degree of occlusions and shape articulations with a large number of samples and have been demonstrated to achieve excellent performance with well-aligned, more or less fully visible training data.

The second category models an object shape using sparse local features or as a collection of visual parts. Local feature based approaches learn body part and/or full-body detectors based on sparse interest points and descriptors from predefined pools of local curve segments [9], [10], a contour segment network [11], k-adjacent segments [12], or edgelets [13]. Part- based approaches model an object shape as a rigid or deformable configuration of visual parts. Part-based representations have been shown to be very effective for handling partial occlusions.

Global methods offer robustness with respect to illumination, background and texture changes, whereas part- based methods are advantageous for different poses. In all cases, the presence of partial occlusions causes a significant degradation of performance, even for part-based methods which are supposed to be robust in that respect.

Current methods for handling occlusion are not generalized, either because additional information is required (coming from manual annotations of the parts or from other sensors), or they are tied to a specific object class [3], [14]. Therefore, our aim is to introduce a general method for

automatic, accurate and robust detection of objects in the presence of partial occlusion.

Here we proposed a method for detecting objects in still images, which can handle occlusion automatically. Manual annotation or defining specific parts/regions of the window are not needed. Our method is based on an ensemble of random subspace classifiers obtained through a selection process. It is worth mentioning that, as the random subspace classifiers use the original feature space, there is no additional feature extraction cost. Similar to [3] and [15], the proposed approach uses a segmentation process to find the unoccluded part of a candidate-window. An ensemble is applied only in uncertain cases. In particular, the proposed method generalizes the inference process presented in [3] by extending it to multiple descriptors.

The proposed approach brings several benefits: 1) the approach is generic, therefore applicable to any class of objects; 2) as the random subspace classifiers are trained in the original space, no further feature extraction is required; 3) the detection is done on monocular intensity images, unlike other methods for which stereo and motion information are mandatory; and 4) during training, we only require a subset of images with and without partial occlusion; other detection methods require delineation of the occluded area.


    So far various methods have been developed for object detection but they lack the detection performance for partially occluded images.

    Various features have been applied to detect objects, e.g., Haar features for faces [1], and edgelets for pedestrians [13]. However, HOG is probably the most popular feature in object detection [2], [3], [6], [5]. The distribution of edge strength in various directions seem to efficiently capture objects in images, especially for pedestrians. Recently, variants of Local Binary Pattern (LBP) also show high potentials [3]. A recent trend in human detection is to combine multiple information sources, e.g., color, local texture, edge, motion, etc. [3]. Introducing more information channels usually increases detection accuracy rates, at the cost of increased detection time.

    Very few methods from the literature handle occlusions explicitly. Dai et al. [16] propose a part-based method for face and car detection. The method consists of a set of substructure detectors,each of which is composed of detectors related to the different parts of the object. The disadvantage of this method is that the different parts of the object need to be manually labeled in the training dataset, in particular, eight parts for face detection and seven parts for cars.

    Wang et al. [3] propose a new scheme to handle occlusions. More concretely, the response at a local level of the histograms of oriented gradients (HOG) [2] descriptor is used to determine whether or not such local region contains a human figure. Then, by segmenting the binary responses over the whole window, the algorithm infers the possible occlusion. If the segmentation process does not lead to a consistent positive or negative response for the entire window, an upper/lower-body classifier is applied. The drawback of this method is that it makes use of a pre-defined spatial layout that characterizes a pedestrian but not any other object class.

    In terms of classifiers, linear SVM is widely used, probably for its fast testing speed. With the fast method to evaluate Histogram Intersection Kernel (HIK) [5], HIK SVM was used to achieve higher accuracies with slight increase in testing / detection time. Sophisticated machine learning algorithms also play important roles in various object detection systems. A very influential approach is the part-based, discriminatively trained latent SVM classifier by Felzenszwalb et al. [6]. This detector is a general object detection framework that have been applied to detect tens of object types. The cascade classifier [1] has been successfully used for detecting faces and pedestrians.

    Another important research topic in object detection is to improve the speed of detection systems. It is a common practice to use extra hardware like the GPU to distribute the computing task to hundreds of GPU cores in parallel, e.g., in [3]. The cascade classifier framework is an algorithmic approach that first makes face detection run in real-time [1], by using a data structure called integral images. The cascade classifier in [1], however, is only applicable to objects that has a fixed aspect ratio.


    The block diagram of this method is shown in fig 1. In this method, the window is described by a block-based feature vector. The resulting feature vector is evaluated by the global classifier. If the confidence given by the global classifier falls into an ambiguous range, then an occlusion inference process is applied by using the block responses. Finally, if the inference process determines that there is a partial occlusion, an ensemble classifies the window. Otherwise the final output is given by the global classifier.

    In the following, we explain in detail the components shown in Fig. 1.

    In this method the original image is presented using block based representation. Fig. 2 gives an idea of such type of representation.

    The window descriptor x Rn is defined as the concatenation of the features extracted from every predefined block Bi, i {1, . . . , m}. A block is a fixed sub region of the window as shown in Fig. 2. In this method blocks can overlap. The descriptor is denoted as x = (B1, . . . ,Bm)T .

    The feature vector x is passed to a global classifier G

    G : Rn (-, +)


    x | G(x)

    where the feature space dimension, n, is n = m · q, being q the number of features per block.

    The higher the value returned by the function G, the higher the confidence that there is a given object in the window.

    In order to detect if there is a partially occluded object in the image, following procedure is used. First, we determine whether the score of the classifier is ambiguous. For example,

    Original Window

    Block Representation

    x = (Bi,.Bm)T

    Descriptor Vector

    Fig. 2. Block-based representation

    Algorithm 1: Pseudo-code for occlusion inference.

    Input: B1, . . . ,Bm

    Output: Found partial occlusion


    foreach i 1, . . . ,m do Calculate li(Bi);

    si := sign(li(Bi));


    (s1, . . . , sm) := seg(s1, . . . , sm);

    if | sI m then

    return true;// There are occluded blocks

    else end

    return false;// Object or Background

    Fig. 1. Block diagram of object detection scheme with occlusion handling

    the response from an SVM classifier can be perceived as ambiguous if it is close to 0.When the output is ambiguous, an occlusion inference process is applied. This is based on the responses obtained from the features computed in each block. In particular, for every block Bi, i {1, . . . ,m} we define a local classifier li

    li : Rq (, +)

    Bi | l(Bi) (2)

    where the classifier li takes as input the i-th block Bi of the window, and provides as output the likelihood that the block Bi is object or, otherwise, is an occluding block or background.

    The algorithm for the occlusion inference is described in Alg. 1. For each block Bi we obtain a discrete label si by thresholding the local response li(Bi) ( 1). The discrete label si indicates whether the block Bi is object (si = 1) or is an occluding block or background (si = 1). Once we have determined this for all the blocks, we can define a binary map as illustrated in Fig. 3, and then apply a segmentation algorithm

    on this binary map. The objective of applying segmentation is to remove spurious responses and to obtain spatially coherent regions. As a result of this segmentation, we obtain spatially coherent block labels si (Fig. 3), and we can determine if there is actually an occlusion or not.

    In Algorithm 1, (s1, . . . , sm) represents the binary image given by the sign of the local responses (l1(B1), . . . , lm(Bm)), being si {1, 1}, i {1, . . . ,m}. After obtaining the local responses si, the algorithm returns (s1, . . . , sm) as the result of applying a segmentation process over the binary image, where again sI {1, 1} i. Finally, the algorithm returns a Boolean confirming whether there is a partial occlusion depending on the responses. More concretely, if all the responses si are negative, we interpret that such window only contains background. If the responses are all positive, then we consider that there is an object with no occlusions. Finally, if there are both, positive and negative values, we consider that there is a partial occlusion (Fig. 3).

    In this method we have adapted random subspace method

    [19] to develop a flexible model. In particular, we propose to use classifiers trained on random locally distributed blocks; the collection of such classifiers is subsequently browsed to find an optimal combination. Our adapted RSM is introduced next

    Fig. 3. Image mapping before and after segmentation.

    1). Block-based Random Subspace Classifiers: Given I =

    {1, . . . ,m} the set of block indices, in the k-th iteration we generate a random subset Jk of indices, where Jk I. This selection process is carried on until we obtain T different subsets of indices J1, . . . , JT . The k-th subset Jk contains mk

    indices, where this number can vary across different iterations.

    (r1, . . . , rm), where ri = 1 if the i-th block forms part of Jk, and ri = 1 otherwise (Fig. 4 left image). The segmentation is intended, again, as a means of obtaining spatial coherence in the selected blocks (Fig. 4 right image). As a result of this segmentation process we obtain a new binary image from which we construct a new set Jk. In particular, let ri be the binary value of the i-th block after segmentation, then we define Jk = {i: ri = 1}, i.e., the set of blocks that are positive in the segmented binary map (Fig. 4 right image).

    Then, if the binary image (r1, . . . , rm) obtained after applying segmentation has all its values set to one (the resulting classifier would be the holistic classifier), to -1 ( no subspace can be defined) or Jk J ( which means that we have already trained a classifier in the subspace defined by Jk) we discard this set. Otherwse, we train a classifier in the set Dk defined by the projection Pk, which is characterized by the indices in Jk.

    Algorithm 2 is used for generating g1, . . . , gT trained on random blocks. Based on that, we obtain our final ensemble through the selection strategy described below.

    1. Classifier Selection (N-Best Strategy): The accuracy of gk, k {1, . . . , T} in our ensemble depends on the discriminative strength of the local region where this classifier is applied. In order to filter out the less accurate classifiers, our system uses the N-best algorithm. A validation set is used to select a subset of classifiers which work best when combined. For this purpose, the algorithm first sorts the classifiers by their individual performance on the validation set and evaluates how many best classifiers form the optimal ensemble. The single best classifier is considered first. Then an ensemble is formed by the first and the second classifiers and evaluated on the validation set. The third classifier is added, and the ensemble evaluated again, and so on. We apply a weighted average for calculating the final decision, in which weights are related to the individual performances. The ensemble with the highest accuracy is selected among the nested ensembles. One of the most important advantages of this strategy is its linear order of

      Given the k-th subset Jk

      = {jk1, …, jkmk

      }, we define a


      complexity regarding the number of evaluations. For an

      ensemble of T classifiers, we need T individual evaluations

      subspace formed with the blocks indexed by Jk : {B j 1 , …,B jkmk }. For each subspace, we train an individual classifier gk. Thus, the decision function of each base classifier of the ensemble can be expressed as a composition of functions

      where Pk denotes the projection from the original space to the subspace defined by Jk, and gk the corresponding classifier trained in such subspace. For simplicity of notation, from now on, we will use gk instead of (gk Pk).

      The resulting algorithm for the random subspace classifiers generation is described in Alg. 2, where D is the training set, xj denotes the j-th sample and lj its respective label. Given the Jk indices we apply a segmentation algorithm to the binary image

      plus T1 combined evaluations, giving complexity O(T). Besides, during the evaluations it is not necessary to re- compute the features.

    2. Final Ensemble: Given x and the classifiers gk selected after the N-best strategy, the combined decision can be finally expressed as


    where S is the set of the classifier indices that form the optimal ensemble, with |S| T , and k their corresponding weights.

    Combining holistic and part classifier responses is a common technique used in part-based approaches [3], [6]. In our case, if the score given by the ensemble is not confident

    Algorithm 2: Random subspace classifiers pseudo code.

    Input: Training dataset D = {(xj, lj)|1 j n}, T

    Output: g1, . . . , gT


    I := {1, . . . ,m};

    J := {};

    k := 1;

    while k T do

    Randomly select a subset Jk I with Jk ; Given Jk generate the according (r1, . . . , rm); (r1, . . . , rm):=seg(r1, . . . , rm);

    Obtain Jk from (r1, . . . , rm);

    if | rI m Jk J then

    Train gk in Dk = {(Pk(xj), lj)|1 j n}; J := J {Jk};

    k := k + 1;


    Fig. 4. Adapted random block selection.

    enough (i.e., the score is smaller than a fixed threshold th), we combine both scores. More precisely, we apply a linear combination between them

    C(x) = H(x) + (1 )E(x) (5)

    where weights the scores of both classifiers.


    In the previous section, we presented a general method to handle partial occlusions for object detection. In order to illustrate and validate our approach, in this section we describe in detail a particular instantiation of our method for the class of humans. In order to apply our method to pedestrians, we make use of both linear SVMs and HOG descriptors, which have been proven to provide excellent results for this object class. In addition to HOG descriptor, we also test our system using the combination of the HOG and the local binary pattern (LBP) descriptor, which has recently been proposed in [3] for human detection. In the following we explain very briefly each of these components. Given a training dataset D, the linear SVM finds the optimal hyperplane that divides the space between

    positive and negative samples. Thus, given a new input x Rn, the decision function of the holistic classifier can be defined as

    H(x) = + wT · x

    where w is the weighting vector, and is the constant bias of the learnt hyperplane.

    The HOG descriptor was proposed in [2] for human detection. Since then, the descriptor has grown in popularity due to its success. These features are now widely used in object recognition and detection. They describe the body shape through a dense extraction of local gradients in the window. Usually, each region of the window is divided into overlapping blocks where each block is composed of cells. A histogram of oriented gradients is computed for each cell. The final descriptor is the concatenation of all the blocks features in the window. The LBP descriptor proposed first by in [17] has been successfully used in face recognition and human detection [3], [18]. These features encode texture information. In order to compute the cell-structured LBP descriptor, the window is divided into overlapping cells. Then, each pixel contained in a cell is labelled with the binary number obtained by thresholding its value to its neighbour pixel values. Later, for each cell a histogram is built using all the binary values obtained in the previous step. Finally, the cell-structured LBP is the result of concatenating all the histograms of binary patterns in such window. The HOG-LBP is the concatenation of both descriptors, HOG and LBP. These two descriptors complement each other, as they combine shape and texture information.

    Note that in our case, we interpret every cell LBP as a block, thus a block HOG-LBP represents the concatenated block HOG and the cell LBP computed in the same region. Following the formulation proposed in [3], the constant bias can be distributed to each block Bi by using the training data [(5) in [3]]. This technique allows the possibility to rewrite the decision function of the whole linear SVM as a summation of classification results. Then, using this formulation we can define the local classifiers as


    hi(Bi) = i + wT · Bi

    where wi and i are the corresponding weights and distributed bias for each block Bi, respectively. By defining the local classifiers this way, no additional training per block is required. Moreover, when computing the holistic classifier, the local classifiers are implicitly computed, which means that there is no extra cost.

    In this paper, instead of just using HOG features to infer whether there is a partial occlusion [3], we extend the process to rely on both, HOG and LBP features. Thus, the response of each hi is given by all the features computed in the same block

    i. As in [3], the segmentation method used in our implementation is based on the mean shift algorithm [19], whose libraries are publicly available. The mean shift weights are set to wi = |hi(Bi)|.


In this work, we presented a general approach for object detection in still images with the presence of partial occlusion. The method was based on a modified random subspace classifier ensemble. The method can be easily extended to any object, and allows to incorporate other block-based descriptors.

In order to illustrate and validate our approach, we describe in detail a particular instantiation of our method for the class of humans. In order to apply our method to pedestrians, we make use of both linear SVMs ad HOG descriptors, which have been proven to provide excellent results for this object class. Two of the most acclaimed descriptors in the literature of the pedestrian detectionHOG and HOG-LBP were implemented. The linear SVM was used as the base classifier.


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