Eigenfaces

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  • Topic: Eigenface, Eigenvalue, eigenvector and eigenspace, Factor analysis
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  • Published : March 14, 2013
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Eigenface-based facial recognition
Dimitri PISSARENKO
December 1, 2002

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General

This document is based upon Turk and Pentland (1991b), Turk and Pentland (1991a) and Smith (2002).

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How does it work?

The task of facial recogniton is discriminating input signals (image data) into several classes (persons). The input signals are highly noisy (e.g. the noise is caused by differing lighting conditions, pose etc.), yet the input images are not completely random and in spite of their differences there are patterns which occur in any input signal. Such patterns, which can be observed in all signals could be – in the domain of facial recognition – the presence of some objects (eyes, nose, mouth) in any face as well as relative distances between these objects. These characteristic features are called eigenfaces in the facial recognition domain (or principal components generally). They can be extracted out of original image data by means of a mathematical tool called Principal Component Analysis (PCA).

By means of PCA one can transform each original image of the training set into a corresponding eigenface. An important feature of PCA is that one can reconstruct reconstruct any original image from the training set by combining the eigenfaces. Remember that eigenfaces are nothing less than characteristic features of the faces. Therefore one could say that the original face image can be reconstructed from eigenfaces if one adds up all the eigenfaces (features) in the right proportion. Each eigenface represents only certain features of the face, which may or may not be present in the original image. If the feature is present in the original image to a higher degree, the share of the corresponding eigenface in the ”sum” of the eigenfaces should be greater. If, contrary, the particular feature is not (or almost not) present in the original image, then the corresponding eigenface should contribute a smaller (or not at all) part to the sum of eigenfaces. So, in order to reconstruct the original image from the eigenfaces, one has to build a kind of weighted sum of all eigenfaces. That is, the reconstructed original image is equal to a sum of all eigenfaces, with each eigenface having a certain weight. This weight specifies, to what degree the specific feature (eigenface) is present in the original image.

If one uses all the eigenfaces extracted from original images, one can reconstruct the original images from the eigenfaces exactly. But one can also use only a part of the eigenfaces. Then the reconstructed image is an approximation of the original image. However, one can ensure that losses due to omitting some of the eigenfaces can be minimized. This happens by choosing only the most important features (eigenfaces). 1

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OVERVIEW OVER THE ALGORITHM

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Omission of eigenfaces is necessary due to scarcity of computational resources. How does this relate to facial recognition? The clue is that it is possible not only to extract the face from eigenfaces given a set of weights, but also to go the opposite way. This opposite way would be to extract the weights from eigenfaces and the face to be recognized. These weights tell nothing less, as the amount by which the face in question differs from ”typical” faces represented by the eigenfaces. Therefore, using this weights one can determine two important things:

1. Determine, if the image in question is a face at all. In the case the weights of the image differ too much from the weights of face images (i.e. images, from which we know for sure that they are faces), the image probably is not a face. 2. Similar faces (images) possess similar features (eigenfaces) to similar degrees (weights). If one extracts weights from all the images available, the images could be grouped to clusters. That is, all images having similar weights are likely to be similar faces.

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Overview over the algorithm

The algorithm for the facial recognition using eigenfaces is basically...
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