Robust face recognition providing the identity and its reliability degree combining sparse representation and multiple features

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For decades, face recognition (FR) has attracted a lot of attention, and several systems have been successfully developed to solve this problem. However, the issue deserves further research effort so as to reduce the still existing gap between the computer and human ability in solving it. Among the others, one of the human skills concerns his ability in naturally conferring a “degree of reliability” to the face identification he carried out. We believe that providing a FR system with this feature would be of great help in real application contexts, making more flexible and treatable the identification process. In this spirit, we propose a completely automatic FR system robust to possible adverse illuminations and facial expression variations that provides together with the identity the corresponding degree of reliability. The method promotes sparse coding of multi-feature representations with LDA projections for dimensionality reduction, and uses a multistage classifier. The method has been evaluated in the challenging condition of having few (3–5) images per subject in the gallery. Extended experiments on several challenging databases (frontal faces of Extended YaleB, BANCA, FRGC v2.0, and frontal faces of Multi-PIE) show that our method outperforms several state-of-the-art sparse coding FR systems, thus demonstrating its effectiveness and generalizability.