Where previous reviews on content-based image retrieval emphasize on what can
be seen in an image to bridge the semantic gap, this survey considers what
people tag about an image. A comprehensive treatise of three closely linked
problems, i.e., image tag assignment, refinement, and tag-based image retrieval
is presented. While existing works vary in terms of their targeted tasks and
methodology, they rely on the key functionality of tag relevance, i.e.
estimating the relevance of a specific tag with respect to the visual content
of a given image and its social context. By analyzing what information a
specific method exploits to construct its tag relevance function and how such
information is exploited, this paper introduces a taxonomy to structure the
growing literature, understand the ingredients of the main works, clarify their
connections and difference, and recognize their merits and limitations. For a
head-to-head comparison between the state-of-the-art, a new experimental
protocol is presented, with training sets containing 10k, 100k and 1m images
and an evaluation on three test sets, contributed by various research groups.
Eleven representative works are implemented and evaluated. Putting all this
together, the survey aims to provide an overview of the past and foster
progress for the near future.