Document Type



Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Electrical Engineering

First Advisor's Name

Malek Adjouadi

First Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Chair

Second Advisor's Name

Naphtali Rishe

Third Advisor's Name

Jean Andrian

Fourth Advisor's Name

Armando Barreto


Similarity Measures, Infrared Imaging, Facial Recognition, Facial Signatures, Image Registration

Date of Defense



This dissertation develops an image processing framework with unique feature extraction and similarity measurements for human face recognition in the mid-wave infrared portion of the electromagnetic spectrum. The goal is to design specialized algorithms that would extract vasculature information, create a thermal facial signature and identify the individual. The objective is to use such findings in support of a biometrics system for human identification with a high degree of accuracy and a high degree of reliability. This last assertion is due to the minimal to no risk for potential alteration of the intrinsic physiological characteristics seen through thermal imaging. Thermal facial signature authentication is fully integrated and consolidates the main and critical steps of feature extraction, registration, matching through similarity measures, and validation through the principal component analysis.

Feature extraction was accomplished by first registering the images to a reference image using the functional MRI of the Brain’s (FMRIB’s) Linear Image Registration Tool (FLIRT) modified to suit thermal images. This was followed by segmentation of the facial region using an advanced localized contouring algorithm applied on anisotropically diffused thermal images. Thermal feature extraction from facial images was attained by performing morphological operations such as opening and top-hat segmentation to yield thermal signatures for each subject. Four thermal images taken over a period of six months were used to generate a thermal signature template for each subject to contain only the most prevalent and consistent features. Finally a similarity measure technique was used to match images to the signature templates and the Principal Component Analysis (PCA) was used to validating the results of the matching process.

Thirteen subjects were used for testing the developed technique on an in-house thermal imaging system. The matching using the similarity measures showed 88% accuracy in case of skeletonized feature signatures and 90% accuracy for anisotropically diffused feature signatures.

The highly accurate results obtained in the matching process along with the generalized design process clearly demonstrate the ability of the developed thermal infrared system to be used on other thermal imaging based systems and related databases.




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