Class\--specific material categorisation.
Although a considerable amount of work has been published on material classification, relatively little of it studies situations with considerable variation within each class. Many experiments use the exact same sample, or different patches from the same image, for training and test sets. Thus, such studies are vulnerable to effectively recognising one particular sample of a material as opposed to the material category. In contrast, this paper places firm emphasis on the capability to generalise to previously unseen instances of materials. We adopt an appearance-based strategy, and conduct experiments on a new database which contains several samples of each of eleven material categories, imaged under a variety of pose, illumination and scale conditions. Together, these sources of intra-class variation provide a stern challenge indeed for recognition. Somewhat surprisingly, the difference in performance between various state-of-the-art texture descriptors proves rather small in this task. On the other hand, we clearly demonstrate that very significant gains can be achieved via different SVM-based classification techniques. Selecting appropriate kernel parameters proves crucial. This motivates a novel recognition scheme based on a decision tree. Each node contains an SVM to split one class from all others with a kernel parameter optimal for that particular node. Hence, each decision is made using a different, optimal, class- -specific metric. Experiments show the superiority of this approach over several state-of-the-art classifiers.