Towards spontaneous facial expression recognition in real-world video

Zhang, Ligang (2012) Towards spontaneous facial expression recognition in real-world video. PhD thesis, Queensland University of Technology.


Facial expression is an important channel of human social communication. Facial expression recognition (FER) aims to perceive and understand emotional states of humans based on information in the face. Building robust and high performance FER systems that can work in real-world video is still a challenging task, due to the various unpredictable facial variations and complicated exterior environmental conditions, as well as the difficulty of choosing a suitable type of feature descriptor for extracting discriminative facial information. Facial variations caused by factors such as pose, age, gender, race and occlusion, can exert profound influence on the robustness, while a suitable feature descriptor largely determines the performance.

Most present attention on FER has been paid to addressing variations in pose and illumination. No approach has been reported on handling face localization errors and relatively few on overcoming facial occlusions, although the significant impact of these two variations on the performance has been proved and highlighted in many previous studies. Many texture and geometric features have been previously proposed for FER. However, few comparison studies have been conducted to explore the performance differences between different features and examine the performance improvement arisen from fusion of texture and geometry, especially on data with spontaneous emotions. The majority of existing approaches are evaluated on databases with posed or induced facial expressions collected in laboratory environments, whereas little attention has been paid on recognizing naturalistic facial expressions on real-world data.

This thesis investigates techniques for building robust and high performance FER systems based on a number of established feature sets. It comprises of contributions towards three main objectives: (1) Robustness to face localization errors and facial occlusions. An approach is proposed to handle face localization errors and facial occlusions using Gabor based templates. Template extraction algorithms are designed to collect a pool of local template features and template matching is then performed to covert these templates into distances, which are robust to localization errors and occlusions.

(2) Improvement of performance through feature comparison, selection and fusion. A comparative framework is presented to compare the performance between different features and different feature selection algorithms, and examine the performance improvement arising from fusion of texture and geometry. The framework is evaluated for both discrete and dimensional expression recognition on spontaneous data.

(3) Evaluation of performance in the context of real-world applications. A system is selected and applied into discriminating posed versus spontaneous expressions and recognizing naturalistic facial expressions. A database is collected from real-world recordings and is used to explore feature differences between standard database images and real-world images, as well as between real-world images and real-world video frames.

The performance evaluations are based on the JAFFE, CK, Feedtum, NVIE, Semaine and self-collected QUT databases. The results demonstrate high robustness of the proposed approach to the simulated localization errors and occlusions. Texture and geometry have different contributions to the performance of discrete and dimensional expression recognition, as well as posed versus spontaneous emotion discrimination. These investigations provide useful insights into enhancing robustness and achieving high performance of FER systems, and putting them into real-world applications.

Impact and interest:

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ID Code: 53199
Item Type: QUT Thesis (PhD)
Supervisor: Tjondronegoro, Dian, Chandran, Vinod, & Maire, Frederic
Keywords: facial expression recognition, texture, geometry, feature fusion, posed, spontaneous, discrete, dimensional, feature selection, active shape model, adaboost, minimal redundancy maximal relevance criterion, support vector machine
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Science & Engineering Faculty
Institution: Queensland University of Technology
Deposited On: 17 Aug 2012 05:47
Last Modified: 10 Sep 2015 02:03

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