Transfer learning features for predicting aesthetics through a novel hybrid machine learning method

  • Adrian CarballalEmail author
  • Carlos Fernandez-Lozano
  • Jonathan Heras
  • Juan Romero
Original Article


The automatic assessment of the aesthetic value of an image is a task with many applications but really complex and challenging, due to the subjective component of the aesthetics for humans. The computational systems that carry out this task are usually composed of a set of ad hoc metrics proposed by the researchers and a machine learning system. We propose a new approach that fully automates the metrics creation process, its filtering and adjustment without human subjectivity. Thus, it does not depend on the authors’ human aesthetic intuitions. Our proposal is therefore based on the integration of two machine learning algorithms: CNN, which works as a feature extractor, and Correlation by Genetic Search (CGS)—a novel regression method, working as a supervised learning method. CGS is based on the creation of an adjusted linear regression model using Pearson’s correlation as a measure of performance in an evolutionary process. Experiments were conducted on a very well-known aesthetics database called “” with more than a million images from over 400,000 users. The comparison of results with other approaches using the same dataset demonstrates that the fusion of CNN transfer learning features with this specific machine learning method has achieved robust and significantly better results than other state-of-the-art methods and hybrid approaches in terms of AUROC (0.93), accuracy (0.93) and Pearson’s correlation value (0.94).


Convolutional neural networks Feature extraction Machine learning Prediction Classification Aesthetics assessment Hybrid model Transfer learning 



This work is supported by the General Directorate of Culture, Education and University Management of Xunta de Galicia (Ref. GRC2014/049) and the European Fund for Regional Development (FEDER) allocated by the European Union, the Portuguese Foundation for Science and Technology for the development of project SBIRC (Ref. PTDC/EIA-EIA/115667/2009), Xunta de Galicia (Ref. XUGA-PGIDIT-10TIC105008-PR) and the Spanish Ministry for Science and Technology (TIN2008-06562/TIN and MTM2017-88804-P) and the Juan de la Cierva fellowship program by the Spanish Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness (Carlos Fernandez-Lozano, Ref. FJCI-2015-26071) and Grant from the Ministry of Education, Culture and Sport for mobility stays of professors and researchers in foreign higher education centers and investigation (PRX18/00117).

We gratefully acknowledge the support of NVIDIA Corporation with the donation of the Titan Xp GPU used for this research.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag London Ltd., part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Computer Science, Faculty of Computer ScienceUniversity of A CoruñaA CoruñaSpain
  2. 2.Instituto de Investigacion Biomedica de A Coruña (INIBIC)Complexo Hospitalario Universitario de A Coruña (CHUAC)A CoruñaSpain
  3. 3.Department of Mathematics and Computer ScienceUniversity of La RiojaLogroñoSpain

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