Identification of materials from calibrated radiance data collected by an airborne imaging spectrometer depends strongly on the atmospheric and illumination conditions at the time of collection. This thesis demonstrates a methodology for identifying material spectra using the assumption that each unique material class forms a lower-dimensional manifold (surface) in the higher-dimensional spectral radiance space and that all image spectra reside on, or near, these theoretic manifolds. Using a physical model, a manifold characteristic of the target material exposed to varying illumination and atmospheric conditions is formed. A graph-based model is then applied to the radiance data to capture the intricate structure of each material manifold, followed by the application of the commute time distance (CTD) transformation to separate the target manifold from the background. Detection algorithms are then applied in the CTD subspace. This nonlinear transformation is based on a random walk on a graph and is derived from an eigendecomposition of the pseudoinverse of the graph Laplacian matrix. This work provides a geometric interpretation of the CTD transformation, its algebraic properties, the atmospheric and illumination parameters varied in the physics-based model, and the influence the target manifold samples have on the orientation of the coordinate axes in the transformed space.

This thesis concludes by demonstrating improved detection results in the CTD subspace as compared to detection in the original spectral radiance space.

Publication Date


Document Type


Student Type


Degree Name

Imaging Science (Ph.D.)

Department, Program, or Center

Chester F. Carlson Center for Imaging Science (COS)


David Messinger

Advisor/Committee Member

Nathan Cahill

Advisor/Committee Member

John Kerekes


Physical copy available from RIT's Wallace Library at TA1637 .S532 2013


RIT – Main Campus

Plan Codes