Pattern Analysis and Applications

, Volume 16, Issue 4, pp 581–594 | Cite as

Unsupervised colour image segmentation by low-level perceptual grouping

  • Adolfo Martínez-Usó
  • Filiberto Pla
  • Pedro García-Sevilla
Theoretical Advances


This paper proposes a new unsupervised approach for colour image segmentation. A hierarchy of image partitions is created on the basis of a function that merges spatially connected regions according to primary perceptual criteria. Likewise, a global function that measures the goodness of each defined partition is used to choose the best low-level perceptual grouping in the hierarchy. Contributions also include a comparative study with five unsupervised colour image segmentation techniques. These techniques have been frequently used as a reference in other comparisons. The results obtained by each method have been systematically evaluated using four well-known unsupervised measures for judging the segmentation quality. Our methodology has globally shown the best performance, obtaining better results in three out of four of these segmentation quality measures. Experiments will also show that our proposal finds low-level perceptual solutions that are highly correlated with the ones provided by humans.


Colour image segmentation Low-level perception Unsupervised segmentation 



This work was supported by the Spanish Ministry of Science and Innovation under the projects Consolider Ingenio 2010 CSD2007-00018, AYA2008-05965-C04-04/ESP and by Caixa-Castelló foundation under the project P1 1B2007-48. We would like to deeply thank Dr. Jason Fritts and Dr. Hui Zhang for their help towards implementing the unsupervised measures for evaluating the segmentation quality. We would also thank to Dr. Richard Nock, Dr. Sreenath Rao Vantaram and Dr. Pablo Arbelaez for their help detailing the SRM and GSEG algorithms and the Berkeley segmentation database respectively.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag London Limited 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Adolfo Martínez-Usó
    • 1
  • Filiberto Pla
    • 1
  • Pedro García-Sevilla
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Computer Languages and Systems, Institute of New Imaging TechnologiesUniversitat Jaume ICastellónSpain

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