Image Recognition using Machine Learning and MATLAB

Secrets of Image Recognition using Machine Learning and MATLAB

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Summary: Image recognition uses Machine Learning to identify and classify objects within digital images. Learn its applications, techniques, and benefits.


Machine Learning has enabled computers to recognise and decipher objects, patterns, and other properties in digital photographs. Researchers use large datasets of labelled photos to train Machine Learning algorithms and familiarise the system with various visual patterns.

Machine Learning algorithms extract relevant information from photos and make precise predictions about the content or objects using methods such as Convolutional Neural Networks (CNNs). Image recognition has numerous applications, including augmented reality, autonomous vehicles, object identification, and medical imaging.

These rapid advancements have revolutionised numerous industries, significantly enhancing automation and capabilities for visual data analysis.

What is Image recognition?

Image recognition, called image classification, is a computer vision technology that automatically recognises and classifies objects, patterns, or features within digital images. It is a branch of Machine Learning and artificial intelligence (AI) that enables computers to interpret visual input, like how people see and identify objects.

Analysing pixel data within an image and extracting pertinent characteristics are often done utilising sophisticated algorithms and Deep Learning approaches. These characteristics may include borders, curves, textures, hues, and other visual patterns that aid in differentiating between various items or classes.

Image Recognition vs Object Recognition

Image recognition is locating and classifying different visual patterns or elements inside digital photographs. It entails instructing computers to comprehend and decipher the entirety of an image, which may contain objects, scenarios, or even abstract patterns. Image recognition aims to assign labels or categories to the entire image based on its content.

Contrarily, object identification is a branch of image recognition that focuses on the problem of locating and identifying distinct objects or entities inside an image. Object recognition aims to find, identify, and classify particular items or areas of interest in an image.

Why Image Recognition Matters?

Image recognition is essential for several reasons, as it has broad ramifications and applications in various fields and sectors. The importance of image recognition can be shown for the following principal reasons:

Automation and Efficiency: Thanks to image recognition technology, tasks that formerly required human interaction can now be automated. It can swiftly and accurately analyse and process enormous amounts of visual data, which increases the efficiency of several activities like data input, inventory management, and quality control in manufacturing.

Enhancement of User Experience: Image recognition improves user experiences in consumer applications by supplying tools like facial recognition for unlocking smartphones, Augmented Reality (AR) for interactive experiences, and visual search for online product discovery. It makes using digital tools and services more accessible and more enjoyable.

Medical diagnosis and healthcare: Image recognition is essential for medical imaging since it helps with early disease detection and diagnosis. It allows radiologists to read X-rays, MRIs, and CT scans to make diagnoses more quickly and accurately, improving patient outcomes.

Security and surveillance: Image recognition is used in facial and object detection systems, improving security measures in public areas like airports. It aids in the detection of possible threats and the control of security issues.

Autonomous Vehicles: Image recognition is essential to the development of autonomous vehicles and self-driving cars. These vehicles can detect and react to traffic signals, pedestrians, and other vehicles by interpreting visual data from cameras and sensors, resulting in safer and more effective transportation.

Environmental Monitoring: Image recognition analyses Aerial and satellite photos in ecological applications. It supports monitoring deforestation, climate change, agronomic trends, and natural disasters. It offers essential insights for environmental research and conservation activities.

Thanks to image recognition technology in retail and e-commerce, shoppers may now find things using images rather than text. This improves suggestion and personalisation technologies, raising consumer engagement and conversion rates.

How does Image recognition work?

Image Recognition using Machine Learning and MATLAB

Image recognition, also known as computer vision, is a field of artificial intelligence that involves computers’ automatic interpretation and understanding of images. The process of image recognition typically involves the following steps:

Data Collection: The first step is to gather a large dataset of labelled images. These images are used to train the image recognition model. Each image is associated with one or more labels that represent the objects or features present in the image.

Feature Extraction: Before feeding the images into the model, meaningful features that can represent the image’s content must be extracted. In the early days of computer vision, handcrafted features like edges, corners, and textures were used. However, with the advent of Deep Learning, convolutional neural networks (CNNs) have become the dominant approach for automatic feature extraction.

Training the Model: The labelled dataset trains a Machine Learning model, typically a deep neural network like a CNN. During training, the model learns to map the input images to their corresponding labels by adjusting its internal parameters through backpropagation and gradient descent. The goal is to minimise the difference between predicted and ground truth labels.

Convolutional Neural Networks (CNNs): CNNs are specialised neural networks that are well-suited for image recognition tasks. They consist of multiple layers, including convolutional, pooling, and fully connected layers. 

Convolutional layers apply filters to the input image to detect various features, such as edges and textures, while pooling layers reduce the spatial dimensions of the feature maps, making the model more computationally efficient.

Testing and Prediction: The model is evaluated on a separate dataset (test set) to measure its performance after training. It can then be used to predict new, unlabeled images. The model outputs probabilities for each possible label, and the label with the highest probability is considered the predicted class for the image.

Post-processing: Depending on the application, post-processing steps may be applied to refine the predictions or perform additional tasks, such as object localisation (identifying the location of objects within an image) or semantic segmentation (segmenting the image into different regions corresponding to other objects or classes).

Continual Improvement: Image recognition models can be further fine-tuned and improved by providing additional data, retraining the model, or using techniques like transfer learning, where a pre-trained model is adapted to a new, related task.

It’s important to note that while image recognition has made significant progress thanks to Deep Learning, it still needs to be solved. It can still face challenges, especially in handling complex scenes, varying lighting conditions, occlusions, and generalising to unseen or uncommon objects. 

However, with ongoing research and advancements in AI, image recognition continues to evolve and find applications in various industries, from self-driving cars to medical imaging and more.

Image Recognition Using Machine Learning

The technique of recognising and capturing essential elements from photos and using them as input for a Machine Learning model is the Machine Learning approach to image recognition.

Image Recognition using Machine Learning and MATLAB

Step 1-Training Data: The first step is to gather a dataset of photos and categorise them according to their traits and qualities.

Step 2-Feature Extraction: Each image is selected for pertinent characteristics using particular methods. These feature extraction approaches help the model identify different classes in the dataset by spotting edges or corners.

Step 3-Creating an ML Model: In step three, the collected features are combined with a Machine Learning model, which successfully separates and groups them into different classes. The model then uses this information to categorise and analyse new objects and images it sees in the future.

Further Check: 

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Image Recognition with MATLAB

Image recognition with MATLAB can be achieved using various techniques and tools provided by MATLAB’s Image Processing Toolbox and Deep Learning Toolbox. MATLAB provides a user-friendly environment for image processing and Deep Learning tasks, making it relatively straightforward to implement image recognition pipelines. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to perform image recognition using MATLAB:

Image Preprocessing: Start by loading and preprocessing your image dataset. Preprocessing may involve resizing images to a consistent size, normalising pixel values, and augmenting the dataset with transformations like rotation or flipping to increase its length and diversity.

Feature Extraction (Optional): Depending on your approach, you may need to extract features from the images manually. However, if you plan to use Deep Learning, the neural network performs feature extraction automatically during training.

Deep Learning Model Creation: To perform image recognition using Deep Learning, create a Convolutional Neural Network (CNN) using MATLAB’s Deep Learning Toolbox. You can build your custom CNN or use pre-trained networks like AlexNet, VGG-16, or ResNet, available in MATLAB.

Data Labeling: Ensure your dataset is properly labelled with corresponding class labels for each image. MATLAB provides tools for organising and managing labelled datasets.

Model Training: Train the CNN using the train network function from the Deep Learning Toolbox. During training, you provide the training and validation data and specify the training options, including the optimisation algorithm, mini-batch size, and number of training epochs.

Model Evaluation: After training, evaluate your model’s performance using a separate test dataset. MATLAB provides functions to assess metrics like accuracy, precision, recall, and F1 score.

Model Prediction: Use the trained model to predict new, unseen images. MATLAB allows you to load the model and use it to classify new images by feeding them through the network.

Post-processing (Optional): Depending on your specific application, you may perform post-processing steps, such as thresholding or filtering, to refine the predictions or extract particular information from the model’s output.

NOTE: MATLAB also provides a Graphic User Interface (GUI) tool called the “Image Labeler” that can be used to label images interactively and create ground truth datasets.

It’s important to mention that the success of image recognition with MATLAB, especially Deep Learning, heavily depends on the size and quality of the dataset and the appropriate selection and tuning of the CNN architecture and hyperparameters.

MATLAB’s comprehensive documentation and examples make it a suitable platform for exploring image recognition techniques and developing custom solutions tailored to specific image recognition tasks. 

Working of Convolutional and Pooling layers

Convolutional and pooling layers are fundamental components of Convolutional Neural Networks (CNNs), a class of Deep Learning models widely used in image recognition and other computer vision tasks. Let’s explore the workings of both layers:

Convolutional Layer

The convolutional layer applies a set of learnable filters (kernels) to the input image. Each filter is a small window that slides across the input image, performing element-wise multiplication with the local regions and then summing the results. This process is known as the convolution operation.

Feature Extraction: The convolutional layer extracts local features from the input image. As the filters slide over the image, they detect patterns such as edges, textures, and other vital features.

Activation Function: After the convolution operation, an activation function (commonly ReLU—Rectified Linear Unit) is applied element-wise to introduce non-linearity into the model. It helps the network learn complex patterns and enables it to learn effectively from the data.

Output: A convolutional layer outputs a set of feature maps, also called activation maps, representing the filters’ responses at different locations in the input image.

Pooling Layer

The pooling layer’s primary function is to downsample the spatial dimensions of the feature maps while retaining the most essential information. This reduces the model’s computational complexity and makes it more robust to spatial translations in the input image.

Max Pooling: Max pooling is the most common pooling technique. It divides the feature map into non-overlapping windows and takes the maximum value within each window. This effectively reduces the size of the feature maps while preserving the most salient features.

Stride: Pooling layers have a parameter called “stride,” which specifies the step size at which the pooling windows move across the feature maps. Larger stride values result in more aggressive downsampling.

Output: The pooling layer output is a set of downsampled feature maps with reduced spatial dimensions.

The typical CNN architecture consists of multiple alternating convolutional and pooling layers, followed by fully connected layers that process the high-level features and make the final predictions. 

By stacking various convolutional and pooling layers, CNN can learn hierarchical representations of the input data, capturing low-level features in the initial layers and more abstract and high-level features in the deeper layers.

Image recognition using Python

Python may be used to recognise images using various tools and frameworks. Utilising Python libraries like TensorFlow and Keras with Deep Learning is one of the most well-liked and effective strategies. Here is a step-by-step tutorial on how to use Python for picture recognition:

Installing necessary libraries: Installing the required libraries should come first. To install TensorFlow, Keras, and other essential packages, use pip: 

Image Recognition using Machine Learning and MATLAB

Collecting and Preparing Data: Collect the necessary data to prepare a labelled image dataset for training and testing. Label each photograph well and segregate the data into folders for each class.

Data Loading and Preprocessing: Use Python tools like Keras or OpenCV to load the photos from the dataset. Images should be preprocessed using resizing, normalising pixel values, and data augmentation (if desired).

Model development and instruction: Make a Deep Learning image recognition model. You can employ convolutional neural networks (CNNs) in this situation. Keras provide a simple method for defining CNN architectures. For instance:  

Image Recognition using Machine Learning and MATLAB

Compile the Model: You must compile the model using an appropriate optimiser, loss function and evaluation metric.

Image Recognition using Machine Learning and MATLAB

Train the model: the next step is for you to train the model on the pre-processed dataset using the ‘fit’ function.

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Model Evaluation: evaluating the trained model’s performance on a completely different test dataset using the function ‘evaluate.’

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Model Prediction: The trained model can predict new, unseen images.

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Fine-tuning and hyperparameter tuning: To improve performance, test various hyperparameters and model topologies. Pre-trained models can also be fine-tuned to increase accuracy with little data.

Image recognition with a pre-trained network

A standard method that uses the understanding acquired from training deep neural networks on enormous datasets is image recognition with a pre-trained network. Pre-trained models have already undergone extensive training on vast amounts of data, frequently employing millions of photos to perform tasks like image categorisation. 

As a result, they have gained the ability to extract detailed and significant elements from photos. Even with little data, fine-tuning a pre-trained model for a particular image identification task can be pretty successful.

Here’s a step-by-step guide on image recognition using a pre-trained network in Python with Keras:

Install Required Libraries: You need to make sure you have Keras with TensorFlow backend installed:

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Choose a Pre-Trained Model: Select a pre-trained model from Keras’s pre-trained models or sources that suit your needs. Some popular pre-trained models in Keras include VGG16, VGG19, ResNet50, InceptionV3, and MobileNet.

Load the Pre-Trained Model: Using Kears, you need to load the pre-trained model. For example, in case you use VGG16:

Pre-process the Image: Preprocess the input image by the pre-trained model’s specifications. Various models could require images with specific sizes and colour channel formats. Images should be (224 and 224) in size and BGR channel format for VGG16. The preprocess_input function can be used for preprocessing:

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Make Predictions: you can predict the pre-processed image using the pre-trained model.

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Interpret the Predictions: The model’s predictions are often expressed as probabilities for each class label. To analyse the projections and get the best classes, use decode_predictions:

Image recognition

Read More:
Introduction to Model validation in Python.

Data Abstraction and Encapsulation in Python Explained.

Python Interview Questions And Answers

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Image Recognition?

Image recognition is a computer vision technology that enables computers to automatically identify and classify objects, patterns, or features within digital images. Analysing pixel data and extracting pertinent characteristics mimics human vision, allowing machines to interpret and understand visual input accurately and efficiently.

Image Recognition vs. Object Recognition: What’s the difference?  

Image recognition involves identifying and categorising the entire content of an image, including objects, scenarios, and abstract patterns. In contrast, object recognition focuses specifically on detecting, identifying, and classifying individual objects or entities within an image, pinpointing their exact locations and distinguishing them from the background.

Why does Image Recognition matter?

Image recognition is crucial for enhancing automation and efficiency in various industries. It improves user experiences, aids in medical diagnoses, strengthens security measures, supports the development of autonomous vehicles, and facilitates environmental monitoring. Its ability to quickly and accurately process visual data drives innovation and operational improvements across multiple sectors.


Image recognition, powered by Machine Learning and tools like MATLAB and Python, revolutionises industries by automating tasks and improving efficiency. Techniques like convolutional and pooling layers in CNNs, along with pre-trained networks, improve accuracy in identifying objects and patterns in digital images. 

Continuous advancements in AI and Machine Learning promise further enhancements, driving innovation across various fields, from healthcare to environmental monitoring. As these technologies evolve, they hold the potential to further transform our interactions with digital tools and services, making image recognition an increasingly integral part of our lives.


  • Asmita Kar

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    I am a Senior Content Writer working with Pickl.AI. I am a passionate writer, an ardent learner and a dedicated individual. With around 3years of experience in writing, I have developed the knack of using words with a creative flow. Writing motivates me to conduct research and inspires me to intertwine words that are able to lure my audience in reading my work. My biggest motivation in life is my mother who constantly pushes me to do better in life. Apart from writing, Indian Mythology is my area of passion about which I am constantly on the path of learning more.

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