Experimental comparison of support vector machines with random forests for hyperspectral image land cover classification

B. T. Abe, O. O. Olugbara, T. Marwala

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Citations (Scopus)


The performances of regular support vector machines and random forests are experimentally compared for hyperspectral imaging land cover classification. Special characteristics of hyperspectral imaging dataset present diverse processing problems to be resolved under robust mathematical formalisms such as image classification. As a result, pixel purity index algorithm is used to obtain endmember spectral responses from Indiana pine hyperspectral image dataset. The generalized reduced gradient optimization algorithm is thereafter executed on the research data to estimate fractional abundances in the hyperspectral image and thereby obtain the numeric values for land cover classification. The Waikato environment for knowledge analysis (WEKA) data mining framework is selected as a tool to carry out the classification process by using support vector machines and random forests classifiers. Results show that performance of support vector machines is comparable to that of random forests. This study makes a positive contribution to the problem of land cover classification by exploring generalized reduced gradient method, support vector machines, and random forests to improve producer accuracy and overall classification accuracy. The performance comparison of these classifiers is valuable for a decision maker to consider tradeoffs in method accuracy versus method complexity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)779-790
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Earth System Science
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2014


  • Classifiers
  • Generalized reduced gradient
  • Hyperspectral image
  • Land cover

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Earth and Planetary Sciences


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