25 March 1999 High-volume image quality assessment systems: tuning performance with an interactive data visualization tool
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Abstract
Image quality assessment systems differ greatly with respect to the number and types of mags they need to evaluate, and their overall architectures. Managers of these systems, however, all need to be able to tune and evaluate system performance, requirements often overlooked or under-designed during project planning. Performance tuning tools allow users to define acceptable quality standards for image features and attributes by adjusting parameter settings. Performance analysis tools allow users to evaluate and/or predict how well a system performs in a given parameter state. While image assessment algorithms are becoming quite sophisticated, duplicating or surpassing the human decision making process in their speed and reliability, they often require a greater investment in 'training' or fine tuning of parameters in order to achieve optimum performance. This process may involve the analysis of hundreds or thousands of images, generating a large database of files and statistics that can be difficult to sort through and interpret. Compounding the difficulty is the fact that personnel charged with tuning and maintaining the production system may not have the statistical or analytical background required for the task. Meanwhile, hardware innovations have greatly increased the volume of images that can be handled in a given time frame, magnifying the consequences of running a production site with an inadequately tuned system. In this paper, some general requirements for a performance evaluation and tuning data visualization system are discussed. A custom engineered solution to the tuning and evaluation problem is then presented, developed within the context of a high volume image quality assessment, data entry, OCR, and image archival system. A key factor influencing the design of the system was the context-dependent definition of image quality, as perceived by a human interpreter. This led to the development of a five-level, hierarchical approach to image quality evaluation. Lower-level pass-fail conditions and decision rules were coded into the system. Higher-level image quality states were defined by allowing the users to interactively adjust the system's sensitivity to various image attributes by manipulating graphical controls. Results were presented in easily interpreted bar graphs. These graphs were mouse- sensitive, allowing the user to more fully explore the subsets of data indicated by various color blocks. In order to simplify the performance evaluation and tuning process, users could choose to view the results of (1) the existing system parameter state, (2) the results of any arbitrary parameter values they chose, or (3) the results of a quasi-optimum parameter state, derived by applying a decision rule to a large set of possible parameter states. Giving managers easy- to-use tools for defining the more subjective aspects of quality resulted in a system that responded to contextual cues that are difficult to hard-code. It had the additional advantage of allowing the definition of quality to evolve over time, as users became more knowledgeable as to the strengths and limitations of an automated quality inspection system.
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Patricia A. Bresnahan, Patricia A. Bresnahan, Madeleine Pukinskis, Madeleine Pukinskis, Michael Wiggins, Michael Wiggins, } "High-volume image quality assessment systems: tuning performance with an interactive data visualization tool", Proc. SPIE 3643, Visual Data Exploration and Analysis VI, (25 March 1999); doi: 10.1117/12.342824; https://doi.org/10.1117/12.342824
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