Probabilistic data association methods for tracking complex visual objects

Christopher Rasmussen, Gregory D. Hager

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

312 Scopus citations


We describe a framework that explicitly reasons about data association to improve tracking performance in many difficult visual environments. A hierarchy of tracking strategies results from ascribing ambiguous or missing data to: 1) noise-like visual occurrences, 2) persistent, known scene elements (i.e., other tracked objects), or 3) persistent, unknown scene elements. First, we introduce a randomized tracking algorithm adapted from an existing probabilistic data association filter (PDAF) that is resistant to clutter and follows agile motion. The algorithm is applied to three different tracking modalities-homogeneous regions, textured regions, and snakes-and extensibly defined for straightforward inclusion of other methods. Second, we add the capacity to track multiple objects by adapting to vision a joint PDAF which oversees correspondence choices between same-modality trackers and image features. We then derive a related technique that allows mixed tracker modalities and handles object overlaps robustly. Finally, we represent complex objects as conjunctions of cues that are diverse both geometrically (e.g., parts) and qualitatively (e.g., attributes). Rigid and hinge constraints between part trackers and multiple descriptive attributes for individual parts render the whole object more distinctive, reducing susceptibility to mistracking. Results are given for diverse objects such as people, microscopic cells, and chess pieces.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)560-576
Number of pages17
JournalIEEE Transactions on Pattern Analysis and Machine Intelligence
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2001


  • Color regions
  • Data association
  • Snakes
  • Textured regions
  • Visual tracking

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Software
  • Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition
  • Computational Theory and Mathematics
  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Applied Mathematics


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