Advancing biomedical image retrieval: development and analysis of a test collection

J Am Med Inform Assoc. 2006 Sep-Oct;13(5):488-96. doi: 10.1197/jamia.M2082. Epub 2006 Jun 23.


Objective: Develop and analyze results from an image retrieval test collection.

Methods: After participating research groups obtained and assessed results from their systems in the image retrieval task of Cross-Language Evaluation Forum, we assessed the results for common themes and trends. In addition to overall performance, results were analyzed on the basis of topic categories (those most amenable to visual, textual, or mixed approaches) and run categories (those employing queries entered by automated or manual means as well as those using visual, textual, or mixed indexing and retrieval methods). We also assessed results on the different topics and compared the impact of duplicate relevance judgments.

Results: A total of 13 research groups participated. Analysis was limited to the best run submitted by each group in each run category. The best results were obtained by systems that combined visual and textual methods. There was substantial variation in performance across topics. Systems employing textual methods were more resilient to visually oriented topics than those using visual methods were to textually oriented topics. The primary performance measure of mean average precision (MAP) was not necessarily associated with other measures, including those possibly more pertinent to real users, such as precision at 10 or 30 images.

Conclusions: We developed a test collection amenable to assessing visual and textual methods for image retrieval. Future work must focus on how varying topic and run types affect retrieval performance. Users' studies also are necessary to determine the best measures for evaluating the efficacy of image retrieval systems.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Abstracting and Indexing
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Databases, Factual*
  • Diagnostic Imaging*
  • Humans
  • Information Storage and Retrieval / methods*