SAR automatic target recognition using discriminative graphical models

Umamahesh Srinivas, Vishal Monga, Raghu G. Raj

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

173 Scopus citations


The problem of automatically classifying sensed imagery such as synthetic aperture radar (SAR) into a canonical set of target classes is widely known as automatic target recognition (ATR). A typical ATR algorithm comprises the extraction of a meaningful set of features from target imagery followed by a decision engine that performs class assignment. While ATR algorithms have significantly increased in sophistication over the past two decades, two outstanding challenges have been identified in the rich body of ATR literature: 1) the desire to mine complementary merits of distinct feature sets (also known as feature fusion), and 2) the ability of the classifier to excel even as training SAR images are limited. We propose to apply recent advances in probabilistic graphical models to address these challenges. In particular we develop a two-stage target recognition framework that combines the merits of distinct SAR image feature representations with discriminatively learned graphical models. The first stage projects the SAR image chip to informative feature spaces that yield multiple complementary SAR image representations. The second stage models each individual representation using graphs and combines these initially disjoint and simple graphs into a thicker probabilistic graphical model by leveraging a recent advance in discriminative graph learning. Experimental results on the benchmark moving and stationary target acquisition and recognition (MSTAR) data set confirm the benefits of our framework over existing ATR algorithms in terms of improvement in recognition rates. The proposed graphical classifiers are particularly robust when feature dimensionality is high and number of training images is small, a commonly observed constraint in SAR imagery-based target recognition.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number6809937
Pages (from-to)591-606
Number of pages16
JournalIEEE Transactions on Aerospace and Electronic Systems
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2014

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Aerospace Engineering
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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