Detection of small objects in clutter using a GA-RBF neural network

TitleDetection of small objects in clutter using a GA-RBF neural network
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2002
AuthorsLeung, H., N. Dubash, and N. Xie
JournalIEEE Transactions on AEROSpace and Electronic Systems

Detection of small objects in a radar or satellite image is an important problem with many applications. Due to a recent discovery that sea clutter, the electromagnetic wave backscatter from a sea surface, is chaotic rather than purely random, computational intelligence techniques such as neural networks have been applied to reconstruct the chaotic dynamic of sea clutter. The reconstructed sea clutter dynamical system which usually takes the form of a nonlinear predictor does not only provide a model of the sea scattering phenomenon, but it can also he used to detect the existence of small targets such as fishing boats and small fragments of icebergs by observing abrupt changes in the prediction error. We applied a genetic algorithm (GA) to obtain an optimal reconstruction of sea clutter dynamic based on a radial basis function (RBF) neural network. This GA-RBF uses a hybrid approach that employes a GA to search for the optimum values of the following RBF parameters: centers, variance, and number of hidden nodes, and uses the least square method to determine the weights. It is shown here that if the functional form of an unknown nonlinear dynamical system can he represented exactly using an RBF net (i.e., no approximation error), this GA-RBF approach can reconstruct the exact dynamic from its time series measurements. In addition to the improved accuracy In modeling sea clutter dynamic, the GA-RBF is also shown to enhance the detectability of small objects embedded in the sea. Using real-life radar data that are collected in the east coast of Canada by two different radar systems: a ground-based radar and a satellite equipped with synthetic aperture radar (SAR), we show that the GA-RBF network is a reliable detector for small surface targets in various sea conditions and is practical for real-life search and rescue, navigation, and surveillance applications.

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