Automatic Cropping Fingermarks: Latent Fingerprint Segmentation

Automatic Cropping Fingermarks: Latent Fingerprint Segmentation

Dinh-Luan Nguyen, Kai Cao and Anil K. Jain
Michigan State University
East Lansing, Michigan, USA, {kaicao, jain}

We present a simple but effective method for automatic latent fingerprint segmentation, called SegFinNet. SegFinNet takes a latent image as an input and outputs a binary mask highlighting the friction ridge pattern. Our algorithm combines fully convolutional neural network and detection-based approach to process the entire input latent image in one shot instead of using latent patches. Experimental results on three different latent databases (i.e. NIST SD27, WVU, and an operational forensic database) show that SegFinNet outperforms both human markup for latents and the state-of-the-art latent segmentation algorithms. Our latent segmentation algorithm takes on average 457 (NIST SD27) and 361 (WVU) msec/latent on Nvidia GTX Ti 1080 with 12GB memory machine. We show that this improved cropping, in turn, boosts the hit rate of a latent fingerprint matcher.

1 Introduction

Latent fingerprints, also known as fingermarks, are friction ridge impressions formed as a result of someone touching a surface, particularly at a crime scene. Latents have been successfully used to identify suspects in criminal investigations for over 100 years by comparing the similarity between latent and rolled fingerprints in a reference database [13]. Latent cropping (segmentation) is the crucial first step in the latent recognition algorithm. For a given set of latent enhancement, minutiae extraction, and matching modules, different cropping masks for friction ridges can lead to dramatically different recognition accuracies. Unlike rolled/slap fingerprints, which are captured in a controlled setting, latent fingerprints are typically noisy, distorted and have low ridge clarity. This creates challenges for an accurate automatic latent cropping algorithm.

Figure 1: SegFinNet with visual attention mechanism for two different input latents, one per row: (a) Focused region from Visual attention module (section 3.2); (b) Original latents overlaid with a heat map showing the probability of occurrence of friction ridges (from high to low); (c) Binary mask (boundary marked in red) used in subsequent modules: enhancement, feature extraction, and matching.

We map the latent fingerprint cropping problem to a sequence of computer vision tasks as follow: (a) Object detection [18] as friction ridge localization; (b) Semantic segmentation [15] as separating all possible friction ridge patterns (foreground) from the background; and (c) Instance Segmentation [9] as separating individual friction ridge patterns in the input latent by semantic segmentation.

Object segmentation can be based on two different approaches: (i) fully convolutional neural networks (FCN) based [15] and (ii) object detection based [9]. FCN based segmentation consists of a series of consecutive receptive fields in its network and is built on translation invariance. Instead of computing general nonlinear functions, FCN builds its nonlinear filters based on relative spatial information in a sequence of layers. On the other hand, detection based segmentation first finds a core and then branches out in parallel to construct pixel-wise segmentation from regions of interest returned by previous detection.

Study Method Database Results Comments Choi et al. [6] Patch orientation and ridge frequency NIST SD27 and WVU; Background: 32K images NIST SD27: 14.78% MDR; 47.99% FDR (+) WVU: 40.88% MDR; 5.63% FDR Matching: 16.28% on NIST SD27 and 35.1% on WVU with COTS tenprint matcher (*) Relies on input image quality and orientation estimation Zhang et al. [20] Adaptive directional total variance model NIST SD27 (1,000 dpi); Background: 27K images 14.10% MDR; 26.13% FDR; Matching: 2% on NIST SD27 with Verifinger SDK 6.6 Relies on orientation field and orientation coherence estimation Ruangsakul et al. [19] Fourier Subbands using spatial-frequency information NIST SD27; Background: 27K images 31.90% MDR; 32.50% FDR; Matching: 14% on NIST SD27 with Verifinger SDK 6.6 Handcrafted subband features; dilation and erosion used to fill gaps and eliminate islands Cao et al. [4] Patch classification based on learned dictionary NIST SD27 and WVU; Background: 32K images Matching: 61.24% on NIST SD27 and 70.16% on WVU with a COTS matcher (*) Heuristic patch classification; relies on learned dictionary quality and convex hull to get smooth mask Liu et al. [14] Linear density on set of line segments from the texture component of latent image NIST SD27; Background: 27K images 13.32% MDR; 24.21% FDR; Matching: 22% on NIST SD27 with Verifinger SDK 4.3 Use dilation and erosion for post-processing and use convex hull to get smooth mask Zhu et al. [21] Neural network as binary patch based classifier NIST SD27; No background reported 10.94% MDR; 11.68% FDR; No matching accuracy reported Relies on neural network classifier; patch by patch processing is time consuming Ezeobiejesi et al. [7] Patch-based stack of restricted Boltzmann machines NIST SD27, WVU, and IIITD; No background reported NIST SD27: 1.25% MDR; 0.04% FDR (#); WVU: 1.64% MDR; 0.60% FDR; IIITD: 1.35% MDR; 0.54% FDR; No matching accuracy reported Depends on the stability of classifier; time consuming Proposed approach Automatic segmentation based on FCN and detection based fusion NIST SD27, WVU, and a forensic database; Background: 100K images MDR, FDR, and IoU metrics; Matching: 70.8% on NIST SD27 and 71.3% on WVU with a COTS matcher; Matching: 12.6% on NIST SD27 and 28.9% on WVU with Verifinger SDK 6.3 on 27K images Non-patch based approach; non-warp region of interest; visual attention mechanism; voting masks technique

  • MDR: Missed Detection Rate; FDR: False Detection Rate; IoU: Intersection Over Union

  • COTS: Commercial off the shelf; The authors did not identify which COTS was used.

  • This work used a subset of dataset for training and their metrics are defined on patches.

Table 1: Published works related to latent fingerprint segmentation.

Our proposed method, called FinSegNet, inherits the idea of instance segmentation and utilizes the advantages of FCN [15] and Mask-RCNN [9] to deal with latent fingerprint cropping problem. SegFinNet uses Faster RCNN [18] as its backbone while its skull (head) comprises of atrous transposed covolution layers [5]. We utilize non-warp region of interest technique, fingerprint attention mechanism, fusion voting and feedback scheme to take advantage of deep information from neural network and shallow appearance from fingerprint domain knowledge (see Figure 1). In our experiments, SegFinNet shows a significant improvement not only in latent cropping, but also in latent search (see Section 4.6 for more details).

Figure 2: SegFinNet architecture.

2 Related work

In latent fingerprint recognition literature, it is a common practice to use a patch based approach in various modules, (i.e. minutiae extraction [17], enhancement [20, 4], orientation estimation [3], etc.), where the input latent is divided into multiple overlapping patches at different locations. The latent segmentation problem has also been approached in this way. Both convolution neural network (convnet) and non-convnet approaches have been proposed based on patch based strategy. Table 1 describes these methods reported in the literature.

Non-convnet patch-based approaches: Choi et al[6] constructed orientation and frequency maps to use as reference in evaluating latent patches. This can be regarded as a dictionary look up map to classify each individual patch into two classes. Zhang et al[20] used adaptive directional total variance model which also relies on the orientation estimation. From the information in the spatial-frequency domain, Ruangsakul et al[19] proposed a Fourier subband method, but it still needs post-processing to fill gaps and eliminate islands. Cao et al[4] classified patches based on a dictionary which depends on dictionary quality and needs post-processing to make the masks smooth. Liu et al[14] utilized texture information to develop linear density on a set of line segments but requires a post-processing technique.

The features used in all the above methods are “hand-crafted” and rely on post-processing techniques. With the success of deep neural networks in many domains, latent fingerprint cropping has also been tackled using them.

Convnet patch-based approaches: Zhu et al[21] used a classification neural network framework to classify patches. This approach is similar to existing non-convnet methods except it simply replaces hand-crafted features by convnet features. With a different classification network, Ezeobiejesi et al[7] used a stack of restricted Boltzmann machines which is somewhat similar to the idea in [21].

Figure 3: General pipeline of patch-based approaches.

There are a number of disadvantages of patch-based approach. (i) Patch-based approaches take a lot of compute time because they need to process every patch into the framework (see Figure 3). The typical used patch size is, on average, . Thus, there are, on average, approximately patches in latent in NIST SD27 dataset. That means patch-based approach process subimages instead of one. (ii) It can not separate multiple instances of friction ridge patterns, i.e. more than one latent (overlapping or non-overlapping) in the input image.

Our work combines fully convolutional neural network and detection based approaches for latent fingerprint segmentation that processes the entire input latent image in one shot instead of patches. Furthermore, it also utilizes a top-down approach (detection before segmentation) which can also be applied to segmenting overlapping latent fingerprints. The main contributions of this paper are as follows:

  • A fully automatic latent segmentation framework, called SegFinNet, which processes the entire input image in one shot. It also outputs multiple instances of fingermark locations.

  • NonWarp-RoIAlign is proposed to obtain more precise segmentation while mapping region of interest (cropped region) in feature map to original image.

  • Visual attention technique is designed to focus only on fingermark regions in the input image. This addresses the problem of “where to look”.

  • Feedback scheme with weighted loss is utilized to emphasize the difference in importance of different objective functions (foreground-background, bounding box, etc.)

  • Majority voting fusion mask is proposed to increase the stability of the cropped mask while dealing with different qualities of latents.

  • Demonstrated that the proposed framework outperforms both human latent cropping and published automatic cropping approaches. Further, the proposed segmentation framework, when integrated with a latent AFIS, boosts the search accuracy on three different latent databases: NIST SD27, WVU, and MSP DB (an operational forensic database).

3 SegFinNet

Based on the idea of detection-based segmentation of Mask RCNN [9], we build our framework from Faster RCNN architecture [18] as backbone, where head is a series of atrous transposed convolutions for pixel-wise prediction.

Unlike previous patch-based approaches which used either handcrafted features [19, 4, 14] or a convnet approach [21, 7], we feed the whole input latent image once to Faster RCNN and process candidates foreground regions returned by SegFinNet. This reduces the training time, and avoids post-processing heuristics to combine results from different patches. Figure 2 and Table 1 illustrate the SegFinNet architecture in details.

Input: Latent fingerprint image
Output: Binary mask
1:Generate different types of grayscale images.
2:procedure Process each grayscale image
3:     Feed the input image to Faster RCNN to obtain the feature map together with the bounding boxes (coordinates) of fingermarks and attention region candidates.
4:     for each box in the candidate list do
5:         Regard each box as a friction ridge image to feed to FCN to obtain Visual attention region (section 3.2) and Voting scheme (section 3.4) results.
6:     end for
7:end procedure
8:Fuse results to get the final fingermark probabilities.
9:Apply a hard-threshold to get binary mask for input latent image.
Algorithm 1 SegFinNet latent fingerprint cropping

3.1 NonWarp-RoIAlign

RoIAlign module in Mask RCNN can handles the misalignment problem111Due to mapping each point in feature map to the nearest value in its neighboring coordinate grid. We refer readers to [9] for more details. while quantizing region of interest (RoI) coordinates in feature maps by using bilinear interpolation on fixed point values [11]. However, it warps the RoI feature maps into squared size (e.g. ) before feeding to upsampling step. This leads to further misalignment and information loss when reshaping the ROI feature map back to original size in image coordinates.

The idea of NonWarp-RoIAlign is simple but affective. Instead of warping RoI feature maps into squared size and then applying multiple deconvolution (upsampling) layers, we only pad zero value pixels to get to a specific size. This can avoid the loss of pixel-wise information when warping regions. We use atrous convolution [5] for upsampling for faster processing and saving memory resources (see Figure 2 for more visualization). The advantage of this method of upsampling is that we can deal with multi-scale problem with atrous spatial pyramid pooling properties and weights of atrous convolution can be obtained from transposed corresponding forward layer.

We also adopt the strategy of combining high-level layers with low-level layers [10, 5, 17] to get finer detail prediction while maintaining high-level semantic interpretation as multi-scale prediction.

3.2 Where to look? Visual attention mechanism

Latent examiners tend to examine fingermarks directed by the RoI identifying the region of interest (see Figure 4). Thus, by directing attention to a specific fingerprint, we can eliminate unnecessary computation for low interest regions.

Figure 4: Example images from MSP database (top row) and NIST SD27 (bottom row) with RoI markup by a latent examiner (by colored marker).

We reuse feature maps returned by Faster RCNN to locate region of interest. We train SegFinNet to learn 2 classes: attention region (fingermark region identified by a black marker by the examiner (Figure 2) and fingermark. In the inference phase, a comparison between returned fingermarks’ location to attention region is used to decide which one needs to be kept using the following criterion: fingerprint bounding box is kept if its overlapping area with attention region is over 70%.

Our attention mechanism is intuitive, but it helps during matching (see Section 4.6 for more details) because it eliminates background friction ridges which generate false minutiae.

3.3 Feedback scheme

One issue in using detection-based segmentation approach is that it segments objects based on candidates (RoI returned by detector). Thus, a large proportion of pixels in these bounding boxes belong to foreground (fingermarks) than to the background. The need to have a new loss function that can handle imbalanced class problem is necessary. Let be a set of training samples, where is the input image and is its corresponding groundtruth mask. SegFinNet outputs a set of concatenated masks for each input . We create weights (, ) for each loss value to solve this problem.

Unlike datasets in computer vision domain that have a huge number of pixel-wise annotated masks, there is no dataset available in fingerprint domain that provides pixel-wise segmentation. Hence, different published studies have used different annotations (see Figure 5). Furthermore, since the border of fingermarks is usually not well defined, it leads to inaccuracies in these manual masks and, subsequently, training error. To alleviate this concern, we propose a semi-supervised partial loss that updates the loss for pixels in the same class while discarding other classes except the background.

Combining the two solutions together, let be the segmentation (mask) loss which takes into account the proportion of all classes in the dataset:


where is the soft-max weight number of pixels on the label, is corresponding mask label of the sample in the class, is regularization term, is cross-entropy loss w.r.t. background, and is the per-pixel sigmoid average binary cross-entropy loss as defined in [9].

In training phase, we consider loss function as a weight sum of class, bounding box, and mask loss. Let be the total, class, bounding box, and pixel-wise mask loss, respectively. The total loss for training is calculated as follows:


We set , , to emphasize the importance of the correctness of predicted class and pixel-wise instance segmentation. We note that the mask loss, is based on Intersection over Union (IoU) criteria [15, 9, 5].

Figure 5: Different groundtruths for two latents in NIST SD27. The groundtruth croppings shown in red, green, and blue are used in Cao et al[4], Ruangsakul et al[19], and Zhu et al[21], respectively.

3.4 Voting fusion masks

The affect of grayscale normalization. In computer vision domain, input image usually has gray values in a specific range of color. Thus, we can easily recognize, detect or segmented objects. In fingerprint domain, it is different. Because of the noisy background and low contrast of fingerprint ridge structure, we as non-experts in fingerprint domain can easily make mistakes in detecting fingermarks. Based on the procedure used by forensic experts to “preprocess” image when examining latent fingerprints, we tried different inputs besides the original latent such as centered gray scaled, histogram equalized, and inverse image.

Even though the original latent fingerprint is noisy, removing noise via an enhancement algorithm prior to segmentation [4, 20] is not advisable because it might loose texture information. To make sure the segmentation result is reasonable and invariant to contrast of input image, we propose a simple but affective voting fusion mask technique. Given an input latent, we preprocess it to generate different types of grayscale images as mentioned above and then feed into SegFinNet to get the corresponding score maps. Final score map is accumulated over different grayscale inputs. Each pixel in the image has its own score value. We set the threshold , which means that each pixel in the chosen region receives at least votes from voting masks.

Although this approach seems to increase the computational requirement, it boosts the reliability of the resulting mask while keeping running time of whole system still to be small (see Section 4.5 for quantitative running time values).

4 Experiments

4.1 Implementation details

We set anchor size in Faster RCNN varying from to . Batch size, detection threshold, and pixel-wise mask threshold are set to , , and , respectively. The learning rate for SegFinNet is set to 0.001 in the first iterations, and 0.0001 in the rest of the iterations. Mini-batch size is 1 and weight decay is 0.0001. We set hyper-parameter in Equation 1 .

4.2 Datasets

We have used 3 different latent fingerprint databases: MSP DB (an operational forensic database), NIST SD27 [8], and West Virginia University latent database (WVU) [1]. The MSP DB includes 2K latent images and over 100K reference rolled fingerprints. The NIST SD27 contains latent images with their true mates while WVU contains latent images with their mated rolled fingerprints and another non-mated rolled images.

Training: we used the MSP DB to train SegFinNet. We manually generated groundtruth binary mask for each latent. Figure 6 shows some example latents in the MSU DB with the corresponding grountruth masks. We used a subset of latent images from MSP DB for training while using a different set of latents in MSP DB for testing. With common augmentation techniques (e.g. random rotation, translation, scaling, cropping, etc. ), the training dataset size increased to latent images.

Testing: we conducted experiments on NIST SD27, WVU, and 1000 sequestered test images from the MSP database. To make the latent search to appear more realistic, we constructed a gallery consisting of rolled images, including the true mates of NIST SD27, rolled fingerprints in WVU, images from NIST14 [2], and the rest from rolled prints in the MSP database. The groundtruth masks were obtained from [12].

Figure 6: Example images in the MSP database with the corresponding manual groundtruth mask overlaid.

4.3 Cropping Evaluation Criteria

Published papers based on patch-based approach with a classification scheme reported the cropping performance in terms of MDR and FDR metrics. The lower values of these metrics, the better framework is. Let and be two sets of pixels in predicted mask and groundtruth mask, respectively. MDR and FDR are then defined as:


Dataset Algorithm MDR FDR IoU Choi [6](#) Zhang [20] Ruangsakul [19](#) NIST Cao [4](#) SD27 Liu [14] Zhu [21] Ezeobiejesi [7](*) Proposed method 2.57% 16.36% 81.76% Choi [6] WVU Ezeobiejesi [7](*) Proposed method 13.15% 5.30% 72.95%

  • We reproduce the results based on masks and groundtruth provided by authors.

  • Its metrics are on reported patches.

Table 2: Comparison of the proposed segmentation method with published algorithms using pixel-wise (MDR, FDR, IoU) metrics on NIST SD27 and WVU latent databases.

With the proposed non-patch-based and top-down approach (detection and segmentation), it is necessary to use IoU metric, which is more appropriate for multi-class segmentation [15, 9, 5]. But, we still report our results in terms of MDR and FDR metrics for reference. In contrast to those metrics, better framework will lead to higher value of IoU. The IoU metric is defined as:


We note that the published methods [19, 21, 6] used their own individual groundtruth information so comparing them based on MDR and FDR is not fair since these two metrics critically depend on the groundtruth. Figure 5 demonstrates the variations in groundtruths used by existing works222We contacted the authors to get their groundtruths.. It is important to emphasize that favorable metric value does not mean that the associated cropping will lead to better latent recognition accuracy. It simply reveals the overlap between predicted mask and its manual groundtruth.

Figure 7: Visualizing segmentation results on six different (one per row) latents from NIST SD27. (a) Our visual attention with heatmap (fingermark probability), (b) Proposed method, (c) Ruangsakul et al[19], (d) Choi et al[6], (e) Cao et al[4], (f) Zhang et al[20]. Images used for comparison vary in terms of noise, friction ridge area and ridge clarity. Note that Zhang et al. used 1,000 dpi images while others, including us, used 500 dpi latents.

4.4 Cropping Accuracy

Table 2 shows a comparison between SegFinNet and other existing works using MDR and FDR metrics on NIST SD27 and WVU databases. The IoU metric was computed based on masks and groundtruth the authors provided. Because Ezeobiejesi et al. evaluated MDR and FDR on patches, not the whole image, it is not fair to include it for IoU comparison. The table shows that SegFinNet provides lowest error rate in terms of MDR and FDR. This is explained because of our use of non-patch based approach. The table also reveals that the low values of either MDR or FDR only does not usually lead to high IoU value.

4.5 Running time

Experiments are run on Nvidia GTX Ti 1080 with 12GB memory. Code is developed in Tensorflow and will be made publicly available.

Table 3 shows a comparison with different configurations in compute times on NIST SD27 and WVU. We note that voting fusion technique takes longer time to process an image because it runs on different inputs. However, its accuracy is better than just using a single image with attention technique.

Dataset Configuration Time(ms) IoU FinSegNet w/o AM & VF 248 46.83% NIST FinSegNet with AM 274 50.60% SD27 FinSegNet with VF 396 78.72% FinSegNet full 457 81.76% FinSegNet w/o AM & VF 198 51.18% WVU FinSegNet with AM 212 62.07% FinSegNet with VF 288 67.33% FinSegNet full 361 72.95%

Table 3: Performance of FinSegNet with different configurations. AM: attention mechanism (Section 3.2), VF: voting fusion scheme (Section 3.4)

Figure 7 shows the visualization of FinSegNet compared to existing works on NIST SD27. These masks were obtained by contacting authors.

4.6 Latent Matching

The final goal of segmentation is to increase the latent matching accuracy. We used two different matchers for latent to rolled matching: Verifinger SDK 6.3 [16] and a state-of-the-art latent COTS AFIS. To make a fair comparison to existing works [20, 19, 14], we report matching performance for Verifinger on 27K background from NIST 14 [2]. In addition, we report the performance of COTS on 100K background. To explain the matching experiments, we first define some terminology.

(a) Baseline: Original gray scale latent image.

(b) Manual GT: Groundtruth masks from Jain et al[4].

(c) SegFinNet with AM: Masked latent images using visual attention mechanism only.

(d) SegFinNet with VF: Masked latent images using majority voting mask technique only.

(e) SegFinNet full: Masked latents with full modules.

(f) Score fusion: Sum of score fusion of our proposed SegFinNet with SegFinNet+AM, SegFinNet+VF, and original input latent images.

Dataset Methods Rank-1 Rank-5 Choi [6](#) Ruangsakul [19](#) NIST Cao [4](#) SD27 Manual GT Baseline Proposed method 12.40% 13.56% Score fusion Manual GT WVU Baseline Proposed method 28.95% 30.07% Score fusion

Table 4: Matching results with Verifinger on NIST SD27 and WVU against 27K background.

Table 4 demonstrates matching results using Verifinger. Since there are many versions of Verifinger SDK, we use masks provided by authors [6, 20, 4, 19] to make a fair comparison. However, the authors did not provide their masks for the WVU database. Note that the contrary to popular belief, the manual groundtruth does not always give better results than original images.

Figure 8: Matching results with a state-of-the-art COTS matcher on (a) NIST SD27, (b) WVU, and (c) MSP database against 100K background images.

Figure 8 shows the matching results using state-of-the-art COTS. We did not use any enhancement techniques like Cao et al[4] in this comparison. The combination between attention mechanism and voting technique showed better performance in our proposed method. Besides, highest results of score fusion technique mean that our method can be complementary to using full image in matching.

5 Conclusion

We have proposed a framework for latent segmentation, called SegFinNet. It utilizes fully convolutional neural network and detection based approach for latent fingerprint segmentation to process the full input image instead of dividing it into patches. Experimental results on three different latent fingerprint databases (i.e. NIST SD27, WVU, and MSP database) show that SegFinNet outperforms both human ground truth cropping for latents and published segmentation algorithms. This improved cropping, in turn, boosts the hit rate of a state of the art COTS latent fingerprint matcher. Our framework can be further developed along the following lines: (a) Integrating into an end-to-end matching model by using shared parameter learned in Faster RCNN backbone as feature map for minutiae/non-minutiae extraction; (b) Combining orientation information to get instance segmentation for segmenting overlapping latent fingerprints.


This research is based upon work supported in part by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI), Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity (IARPA), via IARPA R&D Contract No. 2018-18012900001. The views and conclusions contained herein are those of the authors and should not be interpreted as necessarily representing the official policies, either expressed or implied, of ODNI, IARPA, or the U.S. Government. The U.S. Government is authorized to reproduce and distribute reprints for governmental purposes notwithstanding any copyright annotation therein.


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