An efficient Harris hawks-inspired image segmentation method

Erick Rodríguez-Esparza, Laura A. Zanella-Calzada, Diego Oliva, Ali Asghar Heidari, Daniel Zaldivar, Marco Pérez-Cisneros, Loke Kok Foong

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Citations (Scopus)


Segmentation is a crucial phase in image processing because it simplifies the representation of an image and facilitates its analysis. The multilevel thresholding method is more efficient for segmenting digital mammograms compared to the classic bi-level thresholding since it uses a higher number of intensities to represent different regions in the image. In the literature, there are different techniques for multilevel segmentation; however, most of these approaches do not obtain good segmented images. In addition, they are computationally expensive. Recently, statistical criteria such as Otsu, Kapur, and cross-entropy have been utilized in combination with evolutionary and swarm-based strategies to investigate the optimal threshold values for multilevel segmentation. In this paper, an efficient methodology for multilevel segmentation is proposed using the Harris Hawks Optimization (HHO) algorithm and the minimum cross-entropy as a fitness function. To substantiate the results and effectiveness of the HHO-based method, it has been tested over a benchmark set of reference images, with the Berkeley segmentation database, and with medical images of digital mammography. The proposed HHO-based solver is verified based on other comparable optimizers and two machine learning algorithms K-means and the Fuzzy IterAg. The comparisons were performed based on three groups. This first one is to provide evidence of the optimization capabilities of the HHO using the Wilcoxon test, and the second is to verify segmented image quality using the PSNR, SSIM, and FSIM metrics. Then, the third way is to verify the segmented image comparing it with the ground-truth through the metrics PRI, GCE, and VoI. The experimental results, which are validated by statistical analysis, show that the introduced method produces efficient and reliable results in terms of quality, consistency, and accuracy in comparison with the other methods. This HHO-based method presents an improvement over other segmentation approaches that are currently used in the literature.

Original languageEnglish
Article number113428
JournalExpert Systems with Applications
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • Digital mammograms
  • Harris hawks optimization
  • Metaheuristics
  • Minimum cross entropy
  • Multilevel thresholding

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Engineering(all)
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Artificial Intelligence

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