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An Exploration of Sample Representativeness in Anthropometric Facial Comparison

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Faces are assumed to be unique, but their use in court has remained problematic as no method of comparison with known error rates has been accepted by the scientific community. Rather than relying on the assumed uniqueness of facial features, previous research has been directed at estimations of face shape frequency. Here, the influence of age, sex, and ancestry on variation was investigated. Statistical shape analysis was used to examine the necessity for sub-divisions in forensic comparisons, using a large sample of facial images on which 30 anthropometric landmark points had been placed in 3D. Results showed a clear pattern of separation of the sexes in all age groups, and in different age groups in men. It was concluded that sub-division of databases by sex will be necessary in forensic comparisons. Sub-division by age may be necessary in men (although not necessarily in women), and may be necessary by ancestry.

Keywords: anthropometry; biometrics; facial identification; forensic science; principal components analysis; shape analysis

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Centre for Anatomy and Human Identification, University of Dundee, Dundee DD1 5EH, U.K. 2: Department of Statistics, University of South Carolina, Columbia, SC 29208. 3: Forensic Video Audio and Image Analysis Unit, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Building 27958A, Quantico, VA 22135. 4: Forensic Science Program, University of Toronto, Mississauga, ON L5L 1C6, Canada.

Publication date: 2010-07-01

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