Image segmentation is a process to extract and organize information energy in the image pixel space according to a prescribed feature set. It is often a key preprocess in automatic target recognition (ATR) algorithms. In many cases, the performance of image segmentation algorithms will have significant impact on the performance of ATR algorithms. Due to the variations in feature set definitions and the innovations in the segmentation processes, there is large number of image segmentation algorithms existing in ATR world. Recently, the authors have investigated a number of measures to evaluate the performance of segmentation algorithms, such as Percentage Pixels Same (pps), Partial Directed Hausdorff (pdh) and Complex Inner Product (cip). In the research, we found that the combination of the three measures shows effectiveness in the evaluation of segmentation algorithms against truth data (human master segmentation). However, we still don't know what are the impact of those measures in the performance of ATR algorithms that are commonly measured by Probability of detection (PDet), Probability of false alarm (PFA), Probability of identification (PID), etc. In all practical situations, ATR boxes are implemented without human observer in the loop. The performance of synthetic aperture radar (SAR) image segmentation should be evaluated in the context of ATR rather than human observers.
This research establishes a segmentation algorithm evaluation suite involving segmentation algorithm performance measures as well as the ATR algorithm performance measures. It provides a practical quantitative evaluation method to judge which SAR image segmentation algorithm is the best for a particular ATR application. The results are tabulated based on some baseline ATR algorithms and a typical image segmentation algorithm used in ATR applications.