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We present the Discriminative Ferns Ensemble (DFE) classifier for efficient visual object recognition. The classifier architecture is designed to optimize both classification speed and accuracy when a large training set is available. Speed is obtained using simple binary features and direct indexing into a set of tables, and accuracy by using a large capacity model and careful discriminative optimization. The proposed framework is applied to the problem of hand pose recognition in depth and infra-red images, using a very large training set. Both the accuracy and the classification time obtained are considerably superior to relevant competing methods, allowing one to reach accuracy targets with run times orders of magnitude faster than the competition. We show empirically that using DFE, we can significantly reduce classification time by increasing training sample size for a fixed target accuracy. Finally a DFE result is shown for the MNIST dataset, showing the method's merit extends beyond depth images.
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