Among all the biometric techniques, fingerprint-based
identification is the oldest method which has been successfully used in numerous
applications. Everyone is known to have unique, immutable fingerprints. A
fingerprint is made of a series of ridges and furrows on the surface of the finger.
The uniqueness of a fingerprint can be determined by the pattern of ridges and furrows as
well as the minutiae points. Minutiae points are local ridge characteristics that
occur at either a ridge bifurcation or a ridge ending.
Fingerprint matching techniques can be placed into two categories: minutae-based and correlation based. Minutiae-based techniques first find minutiae points and then map their relative placement on the finger. However, there are some difficulties when using this approach. It is difficult to extract the minutiae points accurately when the fingerprint is of low quality. Also this method does not take into account the global pattern of ridges and furrows. The correlation-based method is able to overcome some of the difficulties of the minutiae-based approach. However, it has some of its own shortcomings. Correlation-based techniques require the precise location of a registration point and are affected by image translation and rotation.
Fingerprint matching based on minutiae has problems in matching different sized (unregistered) minutiae patterns. Local ridge structures can not be completely characterized by minutiae. We are trying an alternate representation of fingerprints which will capture more local information and yield a fixed length code for the fingerprint. The matching will then hopefully become a relatively simple task of calculating the Euclidean distance will between the two codes.
We are developing algorithms which are more robust to noise in fingerprint images and deliver increased accuracy in real-time. A commercial fingerprint-based authentication system requires a very low False Reject Rate (FAR) for a given False Accept Rate (FAR). This is very difficult to achieve with any one technique. We are investigating methods to pool evidence from various matching techniques to increase the overall accuracy of the system. In a real application, the sensor, the acquisition system and the variation in performance of the system over time is very critical. We are also field testing our system on a limited number of users to evaluate the system performance over a period of time.
Large volumes of fingerprints are collected and stored everyday in a wide range of applications including forensics, access control, and driver license registration. An automatic recognition of people based on fingerprints requires that the input fingerprint be matched with a large number of fingerprints in a database (FBI database contains approximately 70 million fingerprints!). To reduce the search time and computational complexity, it is desirable to classify these fingerprints in an accurate and consistent manner so that the input fingerprint is required to be matched only with a subset of the fingerprints in the database.
Fingerprint Image Enhancement:
A critical step in automatic fingerprint matching is to automatically and reliably extract minutiae from the input fingerprint images. However, the performance of a minutiae extraction algorithm relies heavily on the quality of the input fingerprint images. In order to ensure that the performance of an automatic fingerprint identification/verification system will be robust with respect to the quality of the fingerprint images, it is essential to incorporate a fingerprint enhancement algorithm in the minutiae extraction module. We have developed a fast fingerprint enhancement algorithm, which can adaptively improve the clarity of ridge and furrow structures of input fingerprint images based on the estimated local ridge orientation and frequency. We have evaluated the performance of the image enhancement algorithm using the goodness index of the extracted minutiae and the accuracy of an online fingerprint verification system. Experimental results show that incorporating the enhancement algorithms improves both the goodness index and the verification accuracy.