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Improving the HoG Descriptor

Carl Doersch and Alexei Efros

Abstract: The HoG descriptor has become one of the most popular low-level image representations in computer vision: even a small improvement in its ability to represent images would be useful. In this project, we explore several ways to enhance HoG at minimal performance cost.

One approach is to separate high-frequency gradients ('step edges'), which tend to represent edges, from low-frequency gradients ('diffuse gradients'), which tend to represent shading. We hypothesize that these two types of gradients should give different and complimentary information: the first indicates boundaries whereas the second gives clues about smooth 3-d shapes. As it is, however, HoG only represents the orientation of an edge, rather than its spatial extent, and so the distinction is lost. We propose several algorithms to separate these types of edges: for example, the above is the result of a convex optimization at the image level, where the goal is to find a sparse representation that can explain the gradients of the image at one orientation using both low-frequency (middle) and high-frequency (right) components.

We also attempt to more strongly separate texture from contours. In the current implementation of HoG, an SVM cannot become sensitive a black object on a white background and also to a white object on a black background without also becoming somewhat sensitive to ordinary texture. We argue that a very simple modification to HoG can help with this problem.

[pdf] (under construction)