Google researchers say they have a software technology intended to do for digital images on the Web what the company’s original PageRank software did for searches of Web pages.
On Thursday at the International World Wide Web Conference in Beijing, two Google scientists presented a paper describing what the researchers call VisualRank, an algorithm for blending image-recognition software methods with techniques for weighting and ranking images that look most similar.
Although image search has become popular on commercial search engines, results are usually generated today by using cues from the text that is associated with each image.
Despite decades of effort, image analysis remains a largely unsolved problem in computer science, the researchers said. For example, while progress has been made in automatic face detection in images, finding other objects such as mountains or tea pots, which are instantly recognizable to humans, has lagged.