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Attributes are widely used as mid-level descriptors of object properties in object recognition and retrieval. Mostly, such attributes are manually pre-defined based on domain knowledge, and their number is fixed. However, pre-defined attributes may fail to adapt to the properties of the data at hand, may not necessarily be discriminative, and/or may not generalize well. In this work, we propose a dictionary learning framework that flexibly adapts to the complexity of the given data set and reliably discovers the inherent discriminative middle-level binary features in the data. We use sample relatedness information to improve the generalization of the learned dictionary. %to steer the structure of the attribute representation for discrimination and generalization. We demonstrate that our framework is applicable to both object recognition and complex image retrieval tasks even with few training examples. Moreover, the learned dictionary also help classify novel object categories. Experimental results on the Animals with Attributes, ILSVRC2010 and PASCAL VOC2007 datasets indicate that using relatedness information leads to significant performance gains over established baselines.

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