An Open Source Java Content Based Image Retrieval Library

The LIRE (Lucene Image REtrieval) library provides a simple way to retrieve images and photos based on their color and texture characteristics. LIRE creates a Lucene index of image features for content based image retrieval (CBIR). Several different low level features are available, such as MPEG-7 ScalableColor, ColorLayout, and EdgeHistogram, Auto Color Correlogram, PHOG, CEDD, JCD, FCTH, and many more. Furthermore simple and extended methods for searching the index and result browsing are provided by LIRE. LIRE scales well up to millions of images with hash based approximate indexing. The LIRE library and the LIRE Demo application as well as all the source are available under the Gnu GPL license.


Documentation and help are available

  • on the developers wiki
  • on the developers mailing list
  • on the Google Code page of LIRE
  • in the LIRE book on Amazon or Morgan & Claypool

Please drop me a line on the mailing list if you use LIRE in your project. I would appreciate feedback very much and I will link reference projects.

If you like this work and you want to support the development of Lire, consider to donate to the project.

Support This Project

Consulting & Services

You plan to work with LIRE and you are stuck? I offer additional consulting services for LIRE, visual information retrieval and multimedia management. Note that the software is free, but I can help you with questions like:

  • Which ones are the right features for me?
  • How do I implement a service like XXX?
  • What is it LIRE can / cannot do for me?
  • How to integrate more intelligent processing methods like LSA or PCA?
  • What are the technical implications and limits when using LIRE?
  • … and many more.

Please contact me for further information on consulting at email address (spam protected). All non consulting-related requests should be directed to the mailing list.

About the citation of Lire

We kindly ask you to refer the following paper in any publication mentioning Lire:

Lux Mathias, Savvas A. Chatzichristofis. Lire: Lucene Image Retrieval - An Extensible Java CBIR Library. In proceedings of the 16th ACM International Conference on Multimedia, pp. 1085-1088, Vancouver, Canada, 2008

  • Download paper here (or visit the ACM page)
  • Download BibTeX

… or of course the book Visual Information Retrieval with Java and LIRE.


  • Lire downloads
  • LireDemo (GUI application to try out)
  • Lire nightly build - a fresh build each day from the SVN

Lire Demo

Included with the release the LIRE Demo found its way into the LIRE package. It provides a simple GUI interface for

  • Indexing photos
  • Searching photos
  • Browsing the created index
  • Creating mosaic images based on indexed images (thanks to Lukas Esterle & Manuel Warum for contributed the mosaic-ing code.)

The mosaic creation is described in detail in this post. You can also find a flash based demo of the mosaic creation abilities of Lire.
Visit to download LireDemo. Note that Java 1.6 is needed for using LIRE Demo.Installation instructions:Lire Demo Screenshot 01

  • Download LIRE Demo
  • Unzip (or untar) the downloaded files.
  • Ensure that you haveJava 1.6 installed.
  • Start the demo with “java -jar LireDemo.jar” (or with a double click if you are using Windows)

Online LIRE Demo

An online demo of LIRE is available at featuring approximate search in 300,000 images.