[Paper] IQA-CNN++: Simultaneous Estimation of Image Quality and Distortion (Image Quality Assessment)

Outperforms IQA-CNN With 90% Fewer Number of Parameters

Sik-Ho Tsang
5 min readOct 30, 2020
(Picture from https://www.patrikhuber.ch/blog/2015/10/icip-2015-trip-report)

In this story, Simultaneous estimation of image quality and distortion via multi-task convolutional neural networks (IQA-CNN+ & IQA-CNN++), by University of Maryland, SONY US Research Center, and NICTA and ANU, is presented. This is an extended version of IQA-CNN (2014 CVPR). In this paper:

  • It is believed that simply appending additional tasks based on the state of the art structure does not lead to optimal solutions.
  • A compact structure is designed with nearly 90% fewer parameters compared to IQA-CNN.

This is a paper in 2015 ICIP with over 70 citations. (Sik-Ho Tsang @ Medium)


  1. Brief Review of IQA-CNN (2014 CVPR)
  2. IQA-CNN+
  3. IQA-CNN++
  4. Experimental Results

1. Brief Review of IQA-CNN (2014 CVPR)

IQA-CNN: Network Architecture

1.1. Network Architecture

  • The image patch is firstly normalized before input into the network.
  • In the convolution layer, the locally normalized image patches are convolved with 50 filters. There are no activation after the convolution.
  • Each feature map is pooled into one max value and one min value, i.e. the global max pooling and global min pooling respectively.
  • Then, the first fully connected layer takes an input of size 2×K.
  • ReLU is used in two fully connected layers.

1.2. Training & Testing

  • Non-overlapping 32×32 patches are taken from large images.
  • For training , each patch is assigned a quality score as its source image’s ground truth score.
  • L1 norm is used as the loss function.
  • For testing, the predicted patch scores are averaged for each image to obtain the image level quality score.


IQA-CNN+: Network Architecture
  • IQA-CNN+ is a naive extension of IQA-CNN.
  • Identifying the distortion type is an important part for NR-IQA present in an image. It will be a much better description if both the distortion type and quality score are determined.
  • A multi-task variant by directly adding a minor task in the output layer, as a baseline.
  • The structure for the multi-task is extended by adding a classification layer for classifying the distortion type.
  • However, there are 3 folds that the network is not ideal:
  1. IQA-CNN+ has a shallow convolutional structure (one layer), which makes the filter learning less efficient compared to deeper structures.
  2. Too many parameters to be learnt.
  3. The arrangement of the fully connected layers may not facilitate multiple tasks.

3. IQA-CNN++

IQA-CNN++: Network Architecture
  • Two modifications are made:
  1. Increasing the number of convolutional layers while reducing the receptive field of the filters
  2. Modifying the fully connected layers to have a “fan-out” shape with significantly fewer neurons.

3.1. Network Architecture

  • The first convolutional layer contains 8 kernels each of size 3×3, followed by a 2×2 pooling. The second convolutional layer contains 32 kernels, each of size 3×3×8.
  • The 32 feature maps obtained by the second convolutional layer are pooled to 32 max and 32 min values, which form 64 inputs for the next layer.
  • Again, no nonlinear neurons are used in the convolutional layers.
  • There are 128 and 512 Rectified Linear Units (ReLUs) in the two fully connected layers respectively.
  • Both the linear regression layer and logistic regression layer exist in the last part of the multi-task network.

3.2. Loss Function

  • Loss of the primary task is the l1 norm of the prediction error, and the loss of secondary task is the negative log likelihood.

3.3. Model Size

  • Originally, IQA-CNN (and IQA-CNN+) has approximately 7.2×10⁵ learnable parameters (weights of neurons).
  • By comparison our IQA-CNN++ consists of roughly 7.7×10⁴ learnable parameters, which reduces the model size by 90%.

4. Experimental Results

4.1. LIVE

Performance of quality estimation and distortion identification on LIVE
  • The proposed multi-task CNNs (IQA-CNN+ and IQA-CNN++) outperformed the non-CNN based methods.
  • For the distortion identification task, both multi-task CNNs achieved much higher accuracy. Compared with the state of the art, the gains are approximately 5% and 8% respectively. IQA-CNN++ achieves the best performance (0.951).

My Opinion: All IQA-CNN variants obtain similar results !!

The additional distortion identification (classification part) in IQA-CNN+ doesn’t help for the improvement as we can see from the results of IQA-CNN and IQA-CNN+.

The main contribution is the parameter reduction at the fully connected layers in IQA-CNN++ which makes the model less prone to overfitting for the results below.

4.2. TID2008

Performance of quality estimation and distortion identification on TID2008
  • Similar observation is shown on the dataset TID2008.

4.3. Cross Dataset Test

Performance of quality estimation and distortion identification on 4 common distortions of TID2008, using models trained on LIVE.
Performance of quality estimation and distortion identification on 4 common distortions of CSIQ, using models trained on LIVE.
  • Training and validation are performed on LIVE, and then the obtained model is tested on TID2008 and CSIQ without parameter adaptation.
  • Only 4 distortions are considered, that are common to all the three datasets, namely JPEG2K, JPEG, WN, and BLUR.
  • IQA-CNN++ trained on LIVE achieves an LCC/SORCC of 0.895/0.906 on TID2008, and 0.928/0.936 on CSIQ, outperforming other methods.



Sik-Ho Tsang

PhD, Researcher. I share what I learn. :) Linktree: https://linktr.ee/shtsang for Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.