Unsupervised Classification of Polarimetric SAR Images by EM Algorithm

Kamran-Ullah KHAN  Jian YANG  Weijie ZHANG  

IEICE TRANSACTIONS on Communications   Vol.E90-B   No.12   pp.3632-3642
Publication Date: 2007/12/01
Online ISSN: 1745-1345
DOI: 10.1093/ietcom/e90-b.12.3632
Print ISSN: 0916-8516
Type of Manuscript: PAPER
Category: Sensing
expectation maximization (EM),  clustering,  unsupervised classification,  probability distribution function,  

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In this paper, the expectation maximization (EM) algorithm is used for unsupervised classification of polarimetric synthetic aperture radar (SAR) images. The EM algorithm provides an estimate of the parameters of the underlying probability distribution functions (pdf's) for each class. The feature vector is 9-dimensional, consisting of the six magnitudes and three angles of the elements of a coherency matrix. Each of the elements of the feature vector is assigned a specific parametric pdf. In this work, all the features are supposed to be statistically independent. Then we present a two-stage unsupervised clustering procedure. The EM algorithm is first run for a few iterations to obtain an initial partition of, for example, four clusters. A randomly selected sample of, for example, 2% pixels of the polarimetric SAR image may be used for unsupervised training. In the second stage, the EM algorithm may be run again to reclassify the first stage clusters into smaller sub-clusters. Each cluster from the first stage will be processed separately in the second stage. This approach makes further classification possible as shown in the results. The training cost is also reduced as the number of feature vector in a specific cluster is much smaller than the whole image.