New software 'teaches' computers how to identify beauty

Jun 05, 2006

Beauty is no longer just in the eye of the beholder-computers "taught" to evaluate photographs can match people's aesthetic judgments of "beautiful" or "pretty" more than 70 percent of the time, according to Penn State researchers.

The researchers have developed a computational-aesthetics software that enables computers to single out aesthetically pleasing photographs based on more than a dozen visual features.

The software holds promise for Web users who, when searching for images, might want to hone in on what's "best" rather than browsing through thousands of returned images. It also has potential application for digital cameras. The software could inform photographers that they need to improve shot composition before they snap a picture, the researchers said.

"The software trains computers to judge photographs on 56 different visual features such as color saturation, exposure and composition," said James Wang, assistant professor in the College of Information Sciences and Technology (IST). "On average, if people think something is a 'good' picture, our computer thinks so, too."

The new software is described in a paper, "Studying Aesthetics in Photographic Images Using a Computational Approach," presented at the recent European Conference on Computer Vision in Graz, Austria. In addition to Wang, the other researchers involved in the project include Ritendra Datta and Dhiraj Joshi, doctoral students at Penn State, and Jia Li, assistant professor of statistics.

Aesthetics or people's conceptions of beauty are generally considered highly subjective. But, while no single standard for beauty exists, certain visual features of photographs have been identified as generally pleasing. These include contrast, perspective and texture as well as color saturation, exposure and composition.

To develop their software, the researchers used more than 3,500 images found on an online photo-sharing community which has more than 400,000 registered members. The researchers took advantage of members' rating of photographs for aesthetics. The rating was based on a scale of one to seven.

For their project, the researchers selected images which had been ranked by at least two members and which had aesthetics scores greater than 5.8 or less than 4.2. Using those images and rankings, the researchers "trained" the computer to identify 15 features most often correlated to high aesthetic scores.

"These image-annotation techniques that we are developing have potential for additional uses for judging photographs but also for other applications such as biomedical image databases," Wang said. "Computers, for instance, could be trained to classify pathologies."

Source: Penn State

Explore further: Mobile app could speed O'Hare passport lines

Related Stories

Researchers study fluctuations in solar radiation

Mar 18, 2015

The Sun is the Earth's principal source of energy and climate driver. Yet sometimes it sends more light to the Earth than other times. Astronomers working with Natalie Krivova at the Max Planck Institute ...

Scientists fly kites on Earth to study Mars

Mar 16, 2015

An unconventional research method allows for a new look at geologic features on Earth, revealing that some of the things we see on Mars and other planets may not be what they seem.

Recommended for you

Google's Waze app to alert kidnappings in LA

Apr 22, 2015

Alerts about hit-and-runs and kidnappings in Los Angeles will soon pop up on traffic app Waze, along with road closure information, the West Coast city's mayor said.

How the first smart shopping mall in Europe works

Apr 21, 2015

Researchers from Zendos TecnologĂ­a and the IMDEA Networks Institute have developed an innovative tool to analyze the behavior of customers and visitors to shopping malls. The result is a technological platform called Ubicua ...

Energy-tracking app encourages sustainable behaviors

Apr 21, 2015

For a generation motivated by technology and fast-moving information, a professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison has created an energy-tracking app to make reducing day-to-day energy usage more accessible.

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.