Active and semisupervised learning for the classification of remote sensing images

Claudio Persello, Lorenzo Bruzzone

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

141 Citations (Scopus)


This paper aims at analyzing and comparing active learning (AL) and semisupervised learning (SSL) methods for the classification of remote sensing (RS) images. We present a literature review of the two learning paradigms and compare them theoretically and experimentally when addressing classification problems characterized by few training samples (w.r.t. the number of features) and affected by sample selection bias. Commonalities and differences are highlighted in the context of a conceptual framework used to describe the workflow of the two approaches. We point out advantages and disadvantages of the two approaches, delineating the boundary conditions on the applicability of the two paradigms with respect to both the amount and the quality of available training samples. Moreover, we investigate the integration of concepts that are in common between the two learning paradigms for improving state-of-the-art techniques and combining AL and SSL in order to jointly leverage the advantages of both approaches. In this framework, we propose a novel SSL algorithm that improves the progressive semisupervised support vector machine by integrating concepts that are usually considered in AL methods. We performed several experiments considering both synthetic and real multispectral and hyperspectral RS data, defining different classification problems starting from different initial training sets. The experiments are carried out considering classification methods based on support vector machines.

Original languageEnglish
Article number6780607
Pages (from-to)6937-6956
Number of pages20
JournalIEEE transactions on geoscience and remote sensing
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Active learning (AL)
  • Image classification
  • Remote sensing (RS)
  • Sample selection bias
  • Semisupervised learning (SSL)
  • Support vector machine (SVM)


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