International Journal of Computer Vision

, Volume 7, Issue 1, pp 11-32

First online:

Color indexing

  • Michael J. SwainAffiliated withDepartment of Computer Science, University of Chicago
  • , Dana H. BallardAffiliated withDepartment of Computer Science, University of Rochester

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Computer vision is embracing a new research focus in which the aim is to develop visual skills for robots that allow them to interact with a dynamic, realistic environment. To achieve this aim, new kinds of vision algorithms need to be developed which run in real time and subserve the robot's goals. Two fundamental goals are determining the location of a known object. Color can be successfully used for both tasks.

This article demonstrates that color histograms of multicolored objects provide a robust, efficient cue for indexing into a large database of models. It shows that color histograms are stable object representations in the presence of occlusion and over change in view, and that they can differentiate among a large number of objects. For solving the identification problem, it introduces a technique calledHistogram Intersection, which matches model and image histograms and a fast incremental version of Histogram Intersection, which allows real-time indexing into a large database of stored models. For solving the location problem it introduces an algorithm calledHistogram Backprojection, which performs this task efficiently in crowded scenes.