Image super-resolution via sparse representation

Jianchao Yang, John Wright, Thomas S. Huang, Yi Ma

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This paper presents a new approach to single-image superresolution, based upon sparse signal representation. Research on image statistics suggests that image patches can be well-represented as a sparse linear combination of elements from an appropriately chosen over-complete dictionary. Inspired by this observation, we seek a sparse representation for each patch of the low-resolution input, and then use the coefficients of this representation to generate the high-resolution output. Theoretical results from compressed sensing suggest that under mild conditions, the sparse representation can be correctly recovered from the downsampled signals. By jointly training two dictionaries for the low- and high-resolution image patches, we can enforce the similarity of sparse representations between the low-resolution and high-resolution image patch pair with respect to their own dictionaries. Therefore, the sparse representation of a low-resolution image patch can be applied with the high-resolution image patch dictionary to generate a high-resolution image patch. The learned dictionary pair is a more compact representation of the patch pairs, compared to previous approaches, which simply sample a large amount of image patch pairs, reducing the computational cost substantially. The effectiveness of such a sparsity prior is demonstrated for both general image super-resolution (SR) and the special case of face hallucination. In both cases, our algorithm generates high-resolution images that are competitive or even superior in quality to images produced by other similar SR methods. In addition, the local sparse modeling of our approach is naturally robust to noise, and therefore the proposed algorithm can handle SR with noisy inputs in a more unified framework.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number5466111
Pages (from-to)2861-2873
Number of pages13
JournalIEEE Transactions on Image Processing
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2010
Externally publishedYes


  • Face hallucination
  • image super-resolution (SR)
  • nonnegative matrix factorization
  • sparse coding
  • sparse representation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Software
  • Computer Graphics and Computer-Aided Design


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