Primary/Soft Biometrics: Performance Evaluation and Novel Real-Time Classifiers

TR Number



Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title


Virginia Tech


The relevance of faces in our daily lives is indisputable. We learn to recognize faces as newborns, and faces play a major role in interpersonal communication. The spectrum of computer vision research about face analysis includes, but is not limited to, face detection and facial attribute classification, which are the focus of this dissertation. The face is a primary biometric because by itself revels the subject's identity, while facial attributes (such as hair color and eye state) are soft biometrics because by themselves they do not reveal the subject's identity.

In this dissertation, we proposed a real-time model for classifying 40 facial attributes, which preprocesses faces and then extracts 7 types of classical and deep features. These features were fused together to train 3 different classifiers. Our proposed model yielded 91.93% on the average accuracy outperforming 7 state-of-the-art models. We also developed a real-time model for classifying the states of human eyes and mouth (open/closed), and the presence/absence of eyeglasses in the wild. Our method begins by preprocessing a face by cropping the regions of interest (ROIs), and then describing them using RootSIFT features. These features were used to train a nonlinear support vector machine for each attribute. Our eye-state classifier achieved the top performance, while our mouth-state and glasses classifiers were tied as the top performers with deep learning classifiers.

We also introduced a new facial attribute related to Middle Eastern headwear (called igal) along with its detector. Our proposed idea was to detect the igal using a linear multiscale SVM classifier with a HOG descriptor. Thereafter, false positives were discarded using dense SIFT filtering, bag-of-visual-words decomposition, and nonlinear SVM classification. Due to the similarity in real-life applications, we compared the igal detector with state-of-the-art face detectors, where the igal detector significantly outperformed the face detectors with the lowest false positives. We also fused the igal detector with a face detector to improve the detection performance.

Face detection is the first process in any facial attribute classification pipeline. As a result, we reported a novel study that evaluates the robustness of current face detectors based on: (1) diffraction blur, (2) image scale, and (3) the IoU classification threshold. This study would enable users to pick the robust face detector for their intended applications.



Soft Biometrics, Primary Biometrics, Hard Biometrics, Facial Attribute Classification, Face Detection