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Proceedings Paper

NSF workshop on visual information management systems: workshop report
Author(s): Ramesh C. Jain
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Paper Abstract

One of the most important technologies needed across many traditional and emerging applications is the management of visual information. Every day we are bombarded with information presented in the form of images. So important are images in our world of information technology, that we generate literally millions of images every day, and this number keeps escalating with advances in imaging, visualization, video, and computing technologies. Advances in video technology and its marriage with computing are resulting in the video-computing discipline. High Performance Computing and Communications (HPCC ) is emerging as a key technology for asserting international leadership in industrial, medical, scientific, defense, and environmental areas. Improved computational methods and information management tools are critical in order to enhance the national competitive edge across broad sectors of the economy. The Federal HPCC initiative will address the development of technologies which are essential for building the infrastructure to strengthen our position in meeting the challenges posed by the global developments in industry, political situations, and the environment areas. It would be impossible to cope with this explosion of image information, unless the images were organized for rapid retrieval on demand. A similar situation occurred in the past for numeric and other structured data, and led to the creation of computerized database management systems. In these systems, large amounts of data are organized into fields and important or key fields are used to index the databases making search very efficient. These information management systems have changed several aspects of the modern society. These systems, however, are limited by the fact that they work well only with numeric data and short alpha-numeric strings. Since so much information is in non-alphanumeric form (such as images, video, speech), to deal with such information, researchers started exploring the design and implementation of image databases. But creation of mere image repositories is of little value unless there are methods for fast retrieval of images based on their content, ideally with an efficiency that we find in today's databases. We should be able to search image databases with image-based queries, in addition to alphanumeric queries. The fundamental problem is that images, video, and other similar data differ from numeric data and text in format, and hence they require a totally different technique of organization, indexing, and query processing. We need to consider the issues in visual information management , rather than simply extending the existing database technology to deal with images. We must treat images as one of the central sources of information rather than as an appendix to the main database. A few researchers have addressed problems in image databases. Most of these efforts in image databases, however, focussed either on only a small aspect of the problem, such as data structures or pictorial queries, or on a very narrow application, such as databases for pottery articles of a particular tribe. Other researchers have developed image processing shells which use several images. Clearly, visual information management systems encompass not only databases, but aspects of image processing and image understanding, very sophisticated interfaces, knowledge-based systems, compression and decompression of images. Moreover, memory management and organization issues start becoming much more serious than in the largest alphanumeric databases. In failing to address any of these topics, one may either address only theoretical issues, or may work in a microcosm that will, at best, be extremely narrow in its utility and extensibility. It is clear that the tremendous progress in processing speed and memory technology has made it not only possible, but also attractive to design Visual Information Management Systems (VIMS) for many disparate applications. People already call the 90s the decade of imaging. On considering any of the Grand Challenge problems, such as weather forecasting, air pollution, the earth's biosphere, genome research, or the education network, it becomes clear that the existing database technology must be extended in several new dimensions, from managing tertiary memory to representing an object at varying degrees of detail. Many of the current issues in databases, such as interconnecting heterogeneous databases, are also important to VIMS. Moreover, VIMS have several of their own problems that must be addressed for making progress in challenging industrial and medical applications. Considering the growing need and interest in the organization and retrieval of visual and other non-alphanumeric information, and the insufficient number of academic projects in this area, a workshop on visual information management systems was sponsored Robotics and Machine Inteffigence, and Database and Expert Systems Programs of the National Science Foundation. The aim of the workshop was to bring together active researchers in databases, object- oriented systems, image and signal processing, multi-media, and other related areas to discuss important issues in managing the large amount of visual information that will play a key role in designing information systems of the future. In addition to the researchers in the above and related areas, a few researchers and practitioners interested in applying these systems were also invited.

Paper Details

Date Published: 14 April 1993
PDF: 21 pages
Proc. SPIE 1908, Storage and Retrieval for Image and Video Databases, (14 April 1993); doi: 10.1117/12.143650
Show Author Affiliations
Ramesh C. Jain, Univ. of Michigan (United States)


Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 1908:
Storage and Retrieval for Image and Video Databases
Carlton Wayne Niblack, Editor(s)

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