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Image descriptions and their relational expressions: a review of the literature and the issues

Allen C Benson (U.S. Naval War College, Newport, Rhode Island U.S.A.)

Journal of Documentation

ISSN: 0022-0418

Article publication date: 12 January 2015




The purpose of this paper is to survey the treatment of relationships, relationship expressions and the ways in which they manifest themselves in image descriptions.


The term “relationship” is construed in the broadest possible way to include spatial relationships (“to the right of”), temporal (“in 1936,” “at noon”), meronymic (“part of”), and attributive (“has color,” “has dimension”). The intentions of these vaguely delimited categories with image information, image creation, and description in libraries and archives is complex and in need of explanation.


The review brings into question many generally held beliefs about the relationship problem such as the belief that the semantics of relationships are somehow embedded in the relationship term itself and that image search and retrieval solutions can be found through refinement of word-matching systems.


This review has no hope of systematically examining all evidence in all disciplines pertaining to this topic. It instead focusses on a general description of a theoretical treatment in Library and Information Science.



Benson, A.C. (2015), "Image descriptions and their relational expressions: a review of the literature and the issues", Journal of Documentation, Vol. 71 No. 1, pp. 143-164.



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