Year of Publication


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation




Computer Science

First Advisor

Dr. Ruigang Yang

Second Advisor

Dr. Jinze Liu


This dissertation addresses the difficulties of semantic segmentation when dealing with an extensive collection of images and 3D point clouds. Due to the ubiquity of digital cameras that help capture the world around us, as well as the advanced scanning techniques that are able to record 3D replicas of real cities, the sheer amount of visual data available presents many opportunities for both academic research and industrial applications. But the mere quantity of data also poses a tremendous challenge. In particular, the problem of distilling useful information from such a large repository of visual data has attracted ongoing interests in the fields of computer vision and data mining.

Structural Semantics are fundamental to understanding both natural and man-made objects. Buildings, for example, are like languages in that they are made up of repeated structures or patterns that can be captured in images. In order to find these recurring patterns in images, I present an unsupervised frequent visual pattern mining approach that goes beyond co-location to identify spatially coherent visual patterns, regardless of their shape, size, locations and orientation.

First, my approach categorizes visual items from scale-invariant image primitives with similar appearance using a suite of polynomial-time algorithms that have been designed to identify consistent structural associations among visual items, representing frequent visual patterns. After detecting repetitive image patterns, I use unsupervised and automatic segmentation of the identified patterns to generate more semantically meaningful representations. The underlying assumption is that pixels capturing the same portion of image patterns are visually consistent, while pixels that come from different backdrops are usually inconsistent. I further extend this approach to perform automatic segmentation of foreground objects from an Internet photo collection of landmark locations.

New scanning technologies have successfully advanced the digital acquisition of large-scale urban landscapes. In addressing semantic segmentation and reconstruction of this data using LiDAR point clouds and geo-registered images of large-scale residential areas, I develop a complete system that simultaneously uses classification and segmentation methods to first identify different object categories and then apply category-specific reconstruction techniques to create visually pleasing and complete scene models.