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Latent fingerprint matching has played a critical role in identifying suspects and criminals. However, compared to rolled and plain fingerprint matching, latent identification accuracy is significantly lower due to complex background noise, poor ridge quality and overlapping structured noise in latent images. Accordingly, manual markup of various features (e.g., region of interest, singular points and minutiae) is typically necessary to extract reliable features from latents. To reduce this markup cost and to improve the consistency in feature markup, fully automatic and highly accurate (“lights-out” capability) latent matching algorithms are needed. In this paper, a dictionary-based approach is proposed for automatic latent segmentation and enhancement towards the goal of achieving “lights-out” latent identification systems. Given a latent fingerprint image, a total variation (TV) decomposition model with L1 fidelity regularization is used to remove piecewise-smooth background noise. The texture component image obtained from the decomposition of latent image is divided into overlapping patches. Ridge structure dictionary, which is learnt from a set of high quality ridge patches, is then used to restore ridge structure in these latent patches. The ridge quality of a patch, which is used for latent segmentation, is defined as the structural similarity between the patch and its reconstruction. Orientation and frequency fields, which are used for latent enhancement, are then extracted from the reconstructed patch. To balance robustness and accuracy, a coarse to fine strategy is proposed. Experimental results on two latent fingerprint databases (i.e., NIST SD27 and WVU DB) show that the proposed algorithm outperforms the state-of-the-art segmentation and enhancement algorithms and boosts the performance of a state-of-the-art commercial latent matcher.

A. Jain and E. Liu, "Segmentation and Enhancement of Latent Fingerprints: A Coarse to Fine Ridge Structure Dictionary," in IEEE Transactions on Pattern Analysis & Machine Intelligence.
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