Category Archives: Dev

Gradle as Build System for LIRE & LireSolr

GradleIn the process of updating to Lucene version 6.3.0 we switched the main build system to Gradle. The source code is now better organized, following the structure of Maven with all the source divided into main and test, and the resources being separated. It allows for the use of Maven repositories, automates most tasks out-of-the-box and is extended easily using the Groovy programming language.

Gradle also comes with a wrapper, so as long Java is installed, the build process is fully automated and does not need additional software installed.

Moreover, build.gradle files can be easily used to import projects into JetBrains IDEA. LireDemo and SimpleApplication are sub projects with their own build.gradle files. Checkout the new structure at

LireDemo 0.9.4 beta released

The current LireDemo 0.9.4 beta release features a new indexing routine, which is much faster than the old one. It’s based on the producer-consumer principle and makes — hopefully — optimal use of I/O and up to 8 cores of a system. Moreover, the new PHOG feature implementation is included and you can give it a try. Furthermore JCD, FCTH and CEDD got a more compact representation of their descriptors and use much less storage space now. Several small changes include parameter tuning on several descriptors and so on. All the changes have been documented in the CHANGES.txt file in the SVN.


Serialization of LIRE global features updated

In the current SVN version three global features have been re-visited in terms of serialization. This was necessary as the index of the web demo with 300k images already exceed 1.5 GB.

Feature prior now
EdgeHistogram 320 bytes 40 bytes
JCD 1344 bytes 84 bytes
ColorLayout 14336 bytes 504 bytes

This significant reduction in space leads to (i) smaller indexes, (ii) reduced I/O time, and (iii) therefore, to faster search.

How was this done? Basically it’s clever organization of bytes. In the case of JCD the histogram has 168 entries, each in [0,127], so basically half a byte.Therefore, you can stuff 2 of these values into one byte, but you have to take care of the fact, that Java only supports bit-wise operations on ints and bytes are signed. So the trick is to create an integer in [0, 2^8-1] and then subtract 128 to get it into byte range. The inverse is done for reading. The rest is common bit shifting.

The code can be seen either in the file in the SVN, or in the snippet at for your convenience.

Canny Edge Detector in Java

With the implementation of the PHOG descriptor I came around the situation that no well-performing Canny Edge Detector in pure Java was available. “Pure” in my case means, that it just takes a Java BufferedImage instance and computes the edges. Therefore, I had to implement my own 🙂

As a result there is now a “simple implementation” available as part of LIRE. It takes a BufferedImage and returns another BufferedImage, which contains all the edges as black pixels, while the non-edges are white. Thresholds can be changed and the blurring filter using for preprocessing can be changed in code. Usage is dead simple:

BufferedImage in = File("testdata/wang-1000/128.jpg")); 
CannyEdgeDetector ced = new CannyEdgeDetector(in, 40, 80); 
ImageIO.write(ced.filter(), "png", new File("out.png"));

The result is the picture below:



Updates on LIRE (SVN rev 39)

LIRE is not a sleeping beauty, so there’s something going on in the SVN. I recently checked in updates on Lucene (now 4.2) and Commons Math (now 3.1.1). Also I removed some deprecation things still left from Lucene 3.x.

Most notable addition however is the Extractor / Indexor class pair. They are command line applications that allow to extract global image features from images, put them into an intermediate data file and then — with the help of Indexor — write them to an index. All images are referenced relatively to the intermediate data file, so this approach can be used to preprocess a whole lot of images from different computers on a network file system. Extractor also uses a file list of images as input (one image per line) and can be therefore easily run in parallel. Just split your global file list to n smaller, non overlapping ones and run n Extractor instances. As the extraction part is the slow one, this should allow for a significant speed-up if used in parallel.

Extractor is run with

$> Extractor -i <infile> -o <outfile> -c <configfile>
  • <infile> gives the images, one per line. Use “dir /s /b *.jpg > list.txt” to create a compatible list on Windows.
  • <outfile> gives the location and name of the intermediate data file. Note: It has to be in a folder parent to all images!
  • <configfile> gives the list of features as a Java Properties file. The supported features are listed below the post. The properties file looks like:

Indexor is run with

Indexor -i <input-file> -l <index-directory>
  • <input-file> is the output file of Extractor, the intermediate data file.
  • <index-directory> is the directory of the index the images will be added (appended, not overwritten)

Features supported by Extractor:

  • net.semanticmetadata.lire.imageanalysis.CEDD
  • net.semanticmetadata.lire.imageanalysis.FCTH
  • net.semanticmetadata.lire.imageanalysis.OpponentHistogram
  • net.semanticmetadata.lire.imageanalysis.JointHistogram
  • net.semanticmetadata.lire.imageanalysis.AutoColorCorrelogram
  • net.semanticmetadata.lire.imageanalysis.ColorLayout
  • net.semanticmetadata.lire.imageanalysis.EdgeHistogram
  • net.semanticmetadata.lire.imageanalysis.Gabor
  • net.semanticmetadata.lire.imageanalysis.JCD
  • net.semanticmetadata.lire.imageanalysis.JpegCoefficientHistogram
  • net.semanticmetadata.lire.imageanalysis.ScalableColor
  • net.semanticmetadata.lire.imageanalysis.SimpleColorHistogram
  • net.semanticmetadata.lire.imageanalysis.Tamura

Lire 0.9.3 released

I just uploaded Lire 0.9.3 to the all new Google Code page. This is the first version with full support for Lucene 4.0. Run time and memory performance are comparable to the version using Lucene 3.6. I’ve made several improvements in terms of speed and memory consumption along the way, mostly within the CEDD feature. Also I’ve added two new features:

  • JointHistogram – a 64 bit RGB color histogram joined with pixel rank in the 8-neighborhood, normalized with max-norm, quantized to [0,127], and JSD for a distance function
  • Opponent Histogram – a 64 bit histogram utilizing the opponent color space, normalized with max-norm, quantized to [0,127], and JSD for a distance function

Both features are fast in extraction (the second one naturally being faster as it does not investigate the neighborhood) and yield nice, visually very similar results in search. See also the image below showing 4 queries, each with the new features. The first one of a pair is always based on JointHistogram, the second is based on the OpponentHistogram (click ko see full size).



I also changed the Histogram interface to double[] as the double type is so much faster than float in 64 bit Oracle Java 7 VM. Major bug fix was in the JSD dissimilarity function. So many histograms now turned to use JSD instead of L1, depending on whether they performed better in the SIMPLIcity data set (see in the sources).

Final addition is the Lire-SimpleApplication, which provides two classes for indexing and search with CEDD, ready to compile with all libraries and an Ant build file. This may — hopefully — help those that still seek Java enlightenment 😀

Finally this just leaves to say to all of you: Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

News on LIRE performance

In the course of finishing the book, I reviewed several aspects of the LIRE code and came across some bugs, including one with the Jensen-Shannon divergence. This dissimilarity measure has never been used actively in any features as it didn’t work out in retrieval evaluation the way it was meant to. After two hours staring at the code the realization finally came. In Java the short if statement, “x ? y : z” is overruled by almost any operator including ‘+’. Hence,

System.out.print(true ? 1: 0 + 1) prints '1',


System.out.print((true ? 1: 0) + 1) prints '2'

With this problem identified I was finally able to fix the implementation of the Jensen-Shannon divergence implementation and came to new retrieval evaluation results on the SIMPLIcity data set:

map p@10 error rate
Color Histogram – JSD 0,450 0,704 0,191
Joint Histogram – JSD 0,453 0,691 0,196
Color Correlogram 0,475 0,725 0,171
Color Layout 0,439 0,610 0,309
Edge Histogram 0,333 0,500 0,401
CEDD 0,506 0,710 0,178
JCD 0,510 0,719 0,177
FCTH 0,499 0,703 0,209

Note that the color histogram in the first row now performs similarly to the “good” descriptors in terms of precision at ten and error rate. Also note that a new feature creeped in: Joint Histogram. This is a histogram combining pixel rank and RGB-64 color.

All the new stuff can be found in SVN and in the nightly builds (starting tomorrow 🙂

Lire 0.9.3_alpha – first alpha release for Lucene 4.0

I just submitted my code to the SVN and created a download for Lire 0.9.3_alpha. This version features support for Lucene 4.0, which changed quite a bit in its API. I did not have the time to test the Lucene 3.6 version against the new one, so I actually don’t know which one is faster. I hope the new one, but I fear the old one 😉

This is a pre-release for Lire for Lucene 4.0

Global features (like CEDD, FCTH, ColorLayout, AutoColorCorrelogram and alike) have been tested and considered working. Filters, like the ReRankFilter and the LSAFilter also work. The image shows a search for 10 images with ColorLayout and the results of re-ranking the result list with (i) CEDD and (ii) LSA. Visual words (local features), metric indexes and hashing have not been touched yet, beside making it compile, so I strongly recommend not to use them. However, due to a new weighting approach I assume that the visual word implementation based on Lucene 4.0 will — as soon as it is done — be much better in terms for retrieval performance.


Lire migrated to Google Code & new version released

I just uploaded version 0.9.2 of Lire and LireDemo to Google Code. Yes, Google Code! I also migrated (more or less in a under cover action some month ago) the SVN trunk to Google Code and will move on with development there. Main reasons were that ads were getting more and more aggressive over at and the interface of a Google Code project is so much cleaner and easier to handle from a project manager point of view.

Lire 0.9.2 fixes two bugs in KMeans and GenericImageSearcher. Both were critical. The KMeans fix allows now for the use of the bag of visual words approach. The GenericImageSearcher fix makes search much faster.


New very basic Lire sample project

Due to numerous requests I prepared a package showing off a simple indexer and a simple search. Inside there are two classes: Indexer and Searcher. Each of them does what their name suggests.

Indexer takes the first command line argument, interprets it as directory, gets all images from this directory and indexes and stores them in a newly created directory called “index”. Searcher searches in excactly this image index for the query image specified with the first argument.

The sample application employs CEDD and provides an ANT build file. IDEs like NetBeans, Eclipse or IntelliJ IDEA should have no problems importing the sources and using the build.xml file for compiling and running. Arguments can be changed in the build.xml file.