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Journal of Sensors
Volume 2015, Article ID 538063, 10 pages
Research Article

Urban Land Use and Land Cover Classification Using Remotely Sensed SAR Data through Deep Belief Networks

1Science and Technology on Parallel and Distributed Processing Laboratory, National University of Defense Technology, Changsha 410073, China
2School of Computer, National University of Defense Technology, Changsha 410073, China
3Electronic Engineering College, Naval University of Engineering, Wuhan 430033, China

Received 13 November 2014; Accepted 29 January 2015

Academic Editor: Tianfu Wu

Copyright © 2015 Qi Lv et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Land use and land cover (LULC) mapping in urban areas is one of the core applications in remote sensing, and it plays an important role in modern urban planning and management. Deep learning is springing up in the field of machine learning recently. By mimicking the hierarchical structure of the human brain, deep learning can gradually extract features from lower level to higher level. The Deep Belief Networks (DBN) model is a widely investigated and deployed deep learning architecture. It combines the advantages of unsupervised and supervised learning and can archive good classification performance. This study proposes a classification approach based on the DBN model for detailed urban mapping using polarimetric synthetic aperture radar (PolSAR) data. Through the DBN model, effective contextual mapping features can be automatically extracted from the PolSAR data to improve the classification performance. Two-date high-resolution RADARSAT-2 PolSAR data over the Great Toronto Area were used for evaluation. Comparisons with the support vector machine (SVM), conventional neural networks (NN), and stochastic Expectation-Maximization (SEM) were conducted to assess the potential of the DBN-based classification approach. Experimental results show that the DBN-based method outperforms three other approaches and produces homogenous mapping results with preserved shape details.