Face recognition: A convolutional neural-network approach

Steve Lawrence, C. Lee Giles, Ah Chung Tsoi, Andrew D. Back

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2415 Scopus citations


Faces represent complex multidimensional meaningful visual stimuli and developing a computational model for face recognition is difficult. We present a hybrid neural-network solution which compares favorably with other methods. The system combines local image sampling, a self-organizing map (SOM) neural network, and a convolutional neural network. The SOM provides a quantization of the image samples into a topological space where inputs that are nearby in the original space are also nearby in the output space, thereby providing dimensionality reduction and invariance to minor changes in the image sample, and the convolutional neural network provides for partial invariance to translation, rotation, scale, and deformation. The convolutional network extracts successively larger features in a hierarchical set of layers. We present results using the Karhunen-Loève (KL) transform in place of the SOM, and a multilayer perceptron (MLP) in place of the convolutional network. The KL transform performs almost as well (5.3% error versus 3.8%). The MLP performs very poorly (40% error versus 3.8%). The method is capable of rapid classification, requires only fast approximate normalization and preprocessing, and consistently exhibits better classification performance than the eigenfaces approach on the database considered as the number of images per person in the training database is varied from one to five. With five images per person the proposed method and eigenfaces result in 3.8% and 10.5% error, respectively. The recognizer provides a measure of confidence in its output and classification error approaches zero when rejecting as few as 10% of the examples. We use a database of 400 images of 40 individuals which contains quite a high degree of variability in expression, pose, and facial details. We analyze computational complexity and discuss how new classes could be added to the trained recognizer.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)98-113
Number of pages16
JournalIEEE Transactions on Neural Networks
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1997

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Software
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Computer Networks and Communications
  • Artificial Intelligence


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