Galaxies, Human Eyes, and Artificial Neural Networks

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Science  10 Feb 1995:
Vol. 267, Issue 5199, pp. 859-862
DOI: 10.1126/science.267.5199.859


The quantitative morphological classification of galaxies is important for understanding the origin of type frequency and correlations with environment. However, galaxy morphological classification is still mainly done visually by dedicated individuals, in the spirit of Hubble's original scheme and its modifications. The rapid increase in data on galaxy images at low and high redshift calls for a re-examination of the classification schemes and for automatic methods. Here are shown results from a systematic comparison of the dispersion among human experts classifying a uniformly selected sample of more than 800 digitized galaxy images. These galaxy images were then classified by six of the authors independently. The human classifications are compared with each other and with an automatic classification by an artificial neural network, which replicates the classification by a human expert to the same degree of agreement as that between two human experts.

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