A Unified Probabilistic Formulation of Image Aesthetic Assessment

Hui Zeng, Zisheng Cao, Lei Zhang (Corresponding Author), Alan C. Bovik

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)


Image aesthetic assessment (IAA) has been attracting considerable attention in recent years due to the explosive growth of digital photography in Internet and social networks. The IAA problem is inherently challenging, owning to the ineffable nature of the human sense of aesthetics and beauty, and its close relationship to understanding pictorial content. Three different approaches to framing and solving the problem have been posed: binary classification, average score regression and score distribution prediction. Solutions that have been proposed have utilized different types of aesthetic labels and loss functions to train deep IAA models. However, these studies ignore the fact that the three different IAA tasks are inherently related. Here, we reveal that the use of the different types of aesthetic labels can be developed within the same statistical framework, which we use to create a unified probabilistic formulation of all the three IAA tasks. This unified formulation motivates the use of an efficient and effective loss function for training deep IAA models to conduct different tasks. We also discuss the problem of learning from a noisy raw score distribution which hinders network performance. We then show that by fitting the raw score distribution to a more stable and discriminative score distribution, we are able to train a single model which is able to obtain highly competitive performance on all three IAA tasks. Extensive qualitative analysis and experimental results on image aesthetic benchmarks validate the superior performance afforded by the proposed formulation. The source code is available at https://github.com/HuiZeng/Unified_IAA.

Original languageEnglish
Article number8846580
Pages (from-to)1548-1561
Number of pages14
JournalIEEE Transactions on Image Processing
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2020


  • Image aesthetic assessment
  • unified probabilistic formulation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Software
  • Computer Graphics and Computer-Aided Design

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