Applications of optical remote sensing processes include environmental monitoring, military monitoring, meteorology, mapping, surveillance, etc. Many of these tasks include the detection of specific objects or materials, usually few or small, which are surrounded by other materials that clutter the scene and hide the relevant information. This target detection process has been boosted lately by the use of hyperspectral imagery (HSI) since its high spectral dimension provides more detailed spectral information that is desirable in data exploitation. Typical spectral target detectors rely on statistical or geometric models to characterize the spectral variability of the data. However, in many cases these parametric models do not fit well HSI data that impacts the detection performance.

On the other hand, non-linear transformation methods, mainly based on manifold learning algorithms, have shown a potential use in HSI transformation, dimensionality reduction and classification. In target detection, non-linear transformation algorithms are used as preprocessing techniques that transform the data to a more suitable lower dimensional space, where the statistical or geometric detectors are applied. One of these non-linear manifold methods is the Schroedinger Eigenmaps (SE) algorithm that has been introduced as a technique for semi-supervised classification. The core tool of the SE algorithm is the Schroedinger operator that includes a potential term that encodes prior information about the materials present in a scene, and enables the embedding to be steered in some convenient directions in order to cluster similar pixels together.

A completely novel target detection methodology based on SE algorithm is proposed for the first time in this thesis. The proposed methodology does not just include the transformation of the data to a lower dimensional space but also includes the definition of a detector that capitalizes on the theory behind SE. The fact that target pixels and those similar pixels are clustered in a predictable region of the low-dimensional representation is used to define a decision rule that allows one to identify target pixels over the rest of pixels in a given image. In addition, a knowledge propagation scheme is used to combine spectral and spatial information as a means to propagate the \potential constraints" to nearby points. The propagation scheme is introduced to reinforce weak connections and improve the separability between most of the target pixels and the background. Experiments using different HSI data sets are carried out in order to test the proposed methodology. The assessment is performed from a quantitative and qualitative point of view, and by comparing the SE-based methodology against two other detection methodologies that use linear/non-linear algorithms as transformations and the well-known Adaptive Coherence/Cosine Estimator (ACE) detector. Overall results show that the SE-based detector outperforms the other two detection methodologies, which indicates the usefulness of the SE transformation in spectral target detection problems.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Remote sensing; Multispectral imaging; Optical pattern recognition

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

Wojciech Czaja


Physical copy available from RIT's Wallace Library at G70.39 .D67 2016


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