This paper attempts to review and characterise the problem of the semantic gap in image retrieval and the attempts being made to bridge it. In particular, we draw from our own experience in user queries, automatic annotation and ontological techniques. The first section of the paper describes a characterisation of the semantic gap as a hierarchy between the raw media and full semantic understanding of the media’s content. The second section discusses real users’ queries with respect to the semantic gap. The final sections of the paper describe our own experience in attempting to bridge the semantic gap. In particular we discuss our work on auto-annotation and semantic-space models of image retrieval in order to bridge the gap from the bottom up, and the use of ontologies, which capture more semantics than keyword object labels alone, as a technique for bridging the gap from the top down.
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