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Random Forest and Rotation Forest for fully polarized SAR image classification using polarimetric and spatial features

Du, Peijun, Samat, Alim, Waske, Björn, Liu, Sicong, Li, Zhenhong
ISPRS journal of photogrammetry and remote sensing 2015 v.105 pp. 38-53
polarimetry, remote sensing, support vector machines, synthetic aperture radar, urban areas
Fully Polarimetric Synthetic Aperture Radar (PolSAR) has the advantages of all-weather, day and night observation and high resolution capabilities. The collected data are usually sorted in Sinclair matrix, coherence or covariance matrices which are directly related to physical properties of natural media and backscattering mechanism. Additional information related to the nature of scattering medium can be exploited through polarimetric decomposition theorems. Accordingly, PolSAR image classification gains increasing attentions from remote sensing communities in recent years. However, the above polarimetric measurements or parameters cannot provide sufficient information for accurate PolSAR image classification in some scenarios, e.g. in complex urban areas where different scattering mediums may exhibit similar PolSAR response due to couples of unavoidable reasons. Inspired by the complementarity between spectral and spatial features bringing remarkable improvements in optical image classification, the complementary information between polarimetric and spatial features may also contribute to PolSAR image classification. Therefore, the roles of textural features such as contrast, dissimilarity, homogeneity and local range, morphological profiles (MPs) in PolSAR image classification are investigated using two advanced ensemble learning (EL) classifiers: Random Forest and Rotation Forest. Supervised Wishart classifier and support vector machines (SVMs) are used as benchmark classifiers for the evaluation and comparison purposes. Experimental results with three Radarsat-2 images in quad polarization mode indicate that classification accuracies could be significantly increased by integrating spatial and polarimetric features using ensemble learning strategies. Rotation Forest can get better accuracy than SVM and Random Forest, in the meantime, Random Forest is much faster than Rotation Forest.