PICNIQ: Pairwise Comparisons for Natural Image Quality Assessment

13 Mar 2024  ·  Nicolas Chahine, Sira Ferradans, Jean Ponce ·

Blind image quality assessment (BIQA) approaches, while promising for automating image quality evaluation, often fall short in real-world scenarios due to their reliance on a generic quality standard applied uniformly across diverse images. This one-size-fits-all approach overlooks the crucial perceptual relationship between image content and quality, leading to a 'domain shift' challenge where a single quality metric inadequately represents various content types. Furthermore, BIQA techniques typically overlook the inherent differences in the human visual system among different observers. In response to these challenges, this paper introduces PICNIQ, an innovative pairwise comparison framework designed to bypass the limitations of conventional BIQA by emphasizing relative, rather than absolute, quality assessment. PICNIQ is specifically designed to assess the quality differences between image pairs. The proposed framework implements a carefully crafted deep learning architecture, a specialized loss function, and a training strategy optimized for sparse comparison settings. By employing psychometric scaling algorithms like TrueSkill, PICNIQ transforms pairwise comparisons into just-objectionable-difference (JOD) quality scores, offering a granular and interpretable measure of image quality. We conduct our research using comparison matrices from the PIQ23 dataset, which are published in this paper. Our extensive experimental analysis showcases PICNIQ's broad applicability and superior performance over existing models, highlighting its potential to set new standards in the field of BIQA.

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