Image Recognition

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What Does Image Recognition Mean?

Image recognition is a type of artificial intelligence (AI) programming that is able to assign a single, high-level label to an image by analyzing and interpreting the image's pixel patterns.


Image recognition is a subcategory of computer vision, which is an overarching label for the process of training computers to “see” like humans and take action. It is also related to image processing, which is a catch-all term for using machine learning (ML) algorithms to analyze digital images.

Techopedia Explains Image Recognition

Image recognition is done in many different ways, but many of the top techniques involve the use of supervised learning, neural networks and deep learning algorithms. Through a combination of techniques such as max pooling, stride configuration and padding, convolutional neural filters help machine learning programs get better at identifying the subject of the picture.

Use Cases

Popular uses for image recognition include:

  • Optical character recognition (OCR)
  • Image categorization
  • Digital image search

Image Recognition vs. Object Recognition

The terms image recognition and object recognition (object detection) are often confused. The difference is that image recognition programming analyzes pixel patterns in order to categorize an entire image, while object recognition programming categorizes each pixel pattern in an image.

baseball equipment

Image recognition output = baseball equipment.

Object recognition output = mitt, ball, bat, grass.


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Margaret Rouse
Senior Editor
Margaret Rouse
Senior Editor

Margaret is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical business audience. Over the past twenty years, her IT definitions have been published by Que in an encyclopedia of technology terms and cited in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine, and Discovery Magazine. She joined Techopedia in 2011. Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages.