Ph.D thesis Samira Tavakoli




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"Subjective QoE analysis of HTTP adaptive streaming applications" 

Samira Tavakoli

E.T.S. Ing. Telecomunicación, Universidad Politécnica de Madrid, Noviembre 2015, "Cum Laude".

Ph.D. theses Director: Narciso García Santos.

Optimizing the Quality of Experience (QoE) of HTTP adaptive video streaming (HAS) is receiving increasing attention nowadays. The growth of interest is mainly caused by the fact that current HAS solutions are not QoE-driven, i.e. end-user quality perception is not integral part of the adaptation logic. However, obtaining the necessary reliable ground truths on HAS QoE faces substantial challenges, since the subjective video quality assessment methodologies as proposed by current standards are not well-suited for dealing with the time-varying quality properties that are characteristic for HAS.

This thesis investigates the influence of dynamic quality adaptation on the QoE of streaming video by means of subjective evaluation approaches. Based on a comprehensive survey of related work on subjective HAS QoE assessment, the related challenges and open research questions are highlighted and discussed. As a result, two main research directions are selected for further investigation: analysis of the QoE impact of different technical adaptation parameters, and investigation of testing methodologies suitable for HAS QoE evaluation. In order to investigate related research issues and questions, a set of laboratory experiments have been conducted using different subjective testing methodologies. Our statistical analysis demonstrates that not all assumptions and claims reported in the literature are robust, particularly as regards the QoE impact of switching frequency, smooth vs. abrupt switching, and quality oscillation. On the other hand, our results confirm the influence of some other parameters such as chunk length and switching amplitude on perceived quality. We also show that taking the objective characteristics of the content into account can be beneficial to improve the adaptation viewing experience. In addition, all aforementioned findings are validated by means of an extensive cross-experimental analysis that involves external laboratory and crowdsourcing studies.

Finally, to address the methodological aspects of subjective QoE testing, a comparison between the experimental results obtained from a (short stimuli-based) ACR standardized method and a semi-continuous method (developed for assessment of long video sequences) has been performed. In spite of observation of some differences, the result of statistical analysis does not show any significant effect of testing methodology. Similarly, although the influence of audio presence on evaluation of video-related degradations is perceived, no statistically significant effect of audio presence could be found. Motivating by this finding (no effect of testing method and audio presence), a subsequent analysis has been performed investigating the impact of performing multiple statistical comparisons on statistical levels of significance which increase the likelihood of Type-I errors (false positives). Our results show that in order to obtain a strong effect from the statistical analysis of the subjective results, it is necessary to increase the number of test subjects well beyond the sample sizes proposed by current quality assessment standards and recommendations. Download here