Multi-scale segmentation algorithm for pattern-based partitioning of large categorical rasters

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Jaroslaw Jasiewicz, Tomasz Stepinski, Jacek Niesterowicz


Analyzing large Earth Observation (EO) data on the broad spatial scales frequently involves regionalization of patterns. To automate this process we present a segmentation algorithm designed specifically to delineate segments containing quasi-stationary patterns. The algorithm is designed to work with patterns of a categorical variable. This makes it possible to analyze very large spatial datasets (for example, a global land cover) in their entirety. An input categorical raster is first tessellated into small square tiles to form a new, coarser, grid of tiles. A mosaic of categories within each tile forms a local pattern, and the segmentation algorithm partitions the grid of tiles while maintaining the cohesion of pattern in each segment. The algorithm is based on the principle of seeded region growing (SRG) but it also includes segment merging and other enhancements to segmentation quality. Our key contribution is an extension of the concept of segmentation to grids in which each cell has a non-negligible size and contains a complex data structure (histograms of pattern features). Specific modification of a standard SRG algorithm include: working in a distance space with complex data objects, introducing six-connected ``brick wall" topology of the grid to decrease artifacts associated with tessellation of geographical space, constructing the SRG priority queue of seeds on the basis of local homogeneity of patterns, and using a content-dependent value of segment-growing threshold. The detailed description of the algorithm is given followed by an assessment of its performance on test datasets representing three pertinent themes of land cover, topography, and a high-resolution image. Pattern-based segmentation algorithm will find application in ecology, forestry, geomorphology, land management, and agriculture. The algorithm is implemented as a module of GeoPAT -- an already existing, open source toolbox for performing pattern-based analysis of categorical rasters.



Computer Sciences, Earth Sciences, Geography, Numerical Analysis and Scientific Computing, Other Earth Sciences, Physical Sciences and Mathematics, Social and Behavioral Sciences, Spatial Science


Topography, land cover, Segmentation, categorical rasters, high resolution image, spatial patterns


Published: 2018-01-28 20:10


CC BY Attribution 4.0 International

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