Automatic Ship Photo Interpretation by the Method of Moments

Fred W. Smith, Margaret H. Wright

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The results of a study undertaken to determine the feasibility of automatic interpretation of ship photographs using the spatial moments of the image as features to characterize the image are reported. The photo interpretation consisted of estimating the location, orientation, dimensions, and heading of the ship. The study used simulated ship images in which the outline of the ship was randomly filled with black and white cells to give a low-resolution high-contrast image of the ship such as might be obtained by a high-resolution radar. The estimates were made using polynomials of invariant moments formed by transformations of the original spatial moments, e.g., density-invariant moments, central moments, rotation-invariant moments, etc. The transformations to invariant moments were chosen using physical reasoning. The best moments for the polynomials were chosen using linear regression. The performance of the method of moments on these low-resolution images was found to be comparable to that of a human photointerpreter and to certain heuristic techniques that would be more difficult to implement than the method of moments.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1089-1095
Number of pages7
JournalIEEE Transactions on Computers
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 1971


  • Automatic photo interpretation comparison with
  • human invariant moments
  • linear regression
  • method of moments
  • ship images

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Software
  • Theoretical Computer Science
  • Hardware and Architecture
  • Computational Theory and Mathematics


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