Computer Analysis of Architecture Using Automatic Image Understanding
In the past few years, computer vision and pattern recognition systems have
been becoming increasingly more powerful, expanding the range of automatic
tasks enabled by machine vision. Here we show that computer analysis of
building images can perform quantitative analysis of architecture, and quantify
similarities between city architectural styles in a quantitative fashion.
Images of buildings from 18 cities and three countries were acquired using
Google StreetView, and were used to train a machine vision system to
automatically identify the location of the imaged building based on the image
visual content. Experimental results show that the automatic computer analysis
can automatically identify the geographical location of the StreetView image.
More importantly, the algorithm was able to group the cities and countries and
provide a phylogeny of the similarities between architectural styles as
captured by StreetView images. These results demonstrate that computer vision
and pattern recognition algorithms can perform the complex cognitive task of
analyzing images of buildings, and can be used to measure and quantify visual
similarities and differences between different styles of architectures. This
experiment provides a new paradigm for studying architecture, based on a
quantitative approach that can enhance the traditional manual observation and
analysis. The source code used for the analysis is open and publicly available.