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Harshness in image classification accuracy assessment

Foody, Giles M.


Professor of Geographical Information


Thematic mapping via a classification analysis is one of the most common applications of remote sensing. The accuracy of image classifications is, however, often viewed negatively. Here, it is suggested that the approach to the evaluation of image classification accuracy typically adopted in remote sensing may often be unfair, commonly being rather harsh and mis-leading. It is stressed that the widely used target accuracy of 85% can be inappropriate and that the approach to accuracy assessment adopted commonly in remote sensing is pessimistically biased. Moreover, the maps produced by other communities, which are often used unquestioningly, may have a low accuracy if evaluated from the standard perspective adopted in remote sensing. A greater awareness of the problems encountered in accuracy assessment may help ensure that perceptions of classification accuracy are realistic and reduce unfair criticism of thematic maps derived from remote sensing.


Foody, G. M. (2008). Harshness in image classification accuracy assessment. International Journal of Remote Sensing, 29(11),

Journal Article Type Article
Publication Date Jan 1, 2008
Deposit Date Jun 14, 2013
Publicly Available Date Jun 14, 2013
Journal International Journal of Remote Sensing
Print ISSN 0143-1161
Electronic ISSN 0143-1161
Publisher Taylor & Francis Open
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 29
Issue 11
Public URL
Publisher URL
Additional Information This is an Author's Accepted Manuscript of an article published in International Journal of Remote Sensing: Foody, G.M., Harshness in image classification accuracy assessment, International Journal of Remote Sensing, 29(11), 2008, copyright Taylor & Francis, available online at:


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