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This paper presents a unified approach to crowd segmentation. A global solution is generated using an Expectation Maximization framework. Initially, a head and shoulder detector is used to nominate an exhaustive set of person locations and these form the person hypotheses. The image is then partitioned into a grid of small patches which are each assigned to one of the person hypotheses. A key idea of this paper is that while whole body monolithic person detectors can fail due to occlusion, a partial response to such a detector can be used to evaluate the likelihood of a single patch being assigned to a hypothesis. This captures local appearance information without having to learn specific appearance models. The likelihood of a pair of patches being assigned to a person hypothesis is evaluated based on low level image features such as uniform motion fields and color constancy. During the E-step, the single and pairwise likelihoods are used to compute a globally optimal set of assignments of patches to hypotheses. In the M-step, parameters which enforce global consistency of assignments are estimated. This can be viewed as a form of occlusion reasoning. The final assignment of patches to hypotheses constitutes a segmentation of the crowd. The resulting system provides a global solution that does not require background modeling and is robust with respect to clutter and partial occlusion. © 2008 Springer Berlin Heidelberg.

Original publication




Journal article


Lecture Notes in Computer Science (including subseries Lecture Notes in Artificial Intelligence and Lecture Notes in Bioinformatics)

Publication Date



5305 LNCS


691 - 704