Iterative Training Sample Expansion to Increase and Balance the Accuracy of Land Classification from VHR Imagery

Zhiyong Lv, Guangfei Li, Zhenong Jin, Jon Atli Benediktsson, Giles M. Foody

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Imbalanced training sets are known to produce suboptimal maps for supervised classification. Therefore, one challenge in mapping land cover is acquiring training data that will allow classification with high overall accuracy (OA) in which each class is also mapped onto similar user's accuracy. To solve this problem, we integrated local adaptive region and box-and-whisker plot (BP) techniques into an iterative algorithm to expand the size of the training sample for selected classes in this article. The major steps of the proposed algorithm are as follows. First, a very small initial training sample (ITS) for each class set is labeled manually. Second, potential new training samples are found within an adaptive region by conducting local spectral variation analysis. Lastly, three new training samples are acquired to capture information regarding intraclass variation; these samples lie in the lower, median, and upper quartiles of BP. After adding these new training samples to the ITS, classification is retrained and the process is continued iteratively until termination. The proposed approach was applied to three very high-resolution (VHR) remote-sensing images and compared with a set of cognate methods. The comparison demonstrated that the proposed approach produced the best result in terms of OA and exhibited superiority in balancing user's accuracy. For example, the proposed approach was typically 2%-10% more accurate than the compared methods in terms of OA and it generally yielded the most balanced classification.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number9106828
Pages (from-to)139-150
Number of pages12
JournalIEEE Transactions on Geoscience and Remote Sensing
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Manuscript received January 21, 2020; revised April 23, 2020; accepted May 17, 2020. Date of publication June 2, 2020; date of current version December 24, 2020. This work was supported in part by the National Natural Science Foundation of China under Grant 61701396 and Grant 61801380 and in part by the Natural Science Foundation of Shaan Xi Province under Grant 2018JQ4009. (Corresponding author: ZheNong Jin.) ZhiYong Lv and GuangFei Li are with the School of Computer Science and Engineering, Xi’an University of Technology, Xi’an 710048, China (e-mail:;

Publisher Copyright:
© 1980-2012 IEEE.


  • Land cover classification
  • training sample collection
  • very high-resolution remote-sensing image


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