Image representations for facial expression coding

Marian Stewart Bartlett, Gianluca Donato, Javier R. Movellan, Joseph C. Hager, Paul Ekman, Terrence J. Sejnowski

In S. Solla, T. Leen, & K. Mueller, Eds. Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 12. MIT Press, 2000.


The Facial Action Coding System (FACS) is an objective method for quantifying facial movement in terms of component actions. This system is widely used in behavioral investigations of emotion, cognitive processes, and social interaction. The coding is presently performed by highly trained human experts. This paper explores and compares techniques for automatically recognizing facial actions in sequences of images. These methods include unsupervised learning techniques for finding basis images such as principal component analysis, independent component analysis and local feature analysis, and supervised learning techniques such as Fisher's linear discriminants. These data-driven bases are compared to Gabor wavelets, in which the basis images are predefined. Best performances were obtained using the Gabor wavelet representation and the independent component representation, both of which achieved 96% accuracy for classifying 12 facial actions. The ICA representation employs 2 orders of magnitude fewer basis images than the Gabor representation and takes 90\% less CPU time to compute for new images. The results provide converging support for using local basis images, high spatial frequencies, and statistical independence for classifying facial actions.