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Semantic-Preserving Image Coding Based on Conditional Diffusion Models

Francesco Pezone
Osman Musa
Giuseppe Caire
Sergio Barbarossa

March 18, 2024

Semantic communication, rather than on a bit-by-bit recovery of the transmitted messages, focuses on the meaning and the goal of the communication itself. In this paper, we propose a novel semantic image coding scheme that preserves the semantic content of an image, while ensuring a good trade-off between coding rate and image quality. The proposed Semantic-Preserving Image Coding based on Conditional Diffusion Models (SPIC) transmitter encodes a Semantic Segmentation Map (SSM) and a low-resolution version of the image to be transmitted. The receiver then reconstructs a high-resolution image using a Denoising Diffusion Probabilistic Models (DDPM) doubly conditioned to the SSM and the low-resolution image. As shown by the numerical examples, compared to state-of-the-art (SOTA) approaches, the proposed SPIC exhibits a better balance between the conventional rate-distortion trade-off and the preservation of semantically-relevant features. Code available at