Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department

Computer Science and Engineering

Major Professor

Sudeep Sarkar, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Dmitry Goldgof, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Kevin Bowyer, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Tapas Das, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Rangachar Kasturi, Ph.D.


LDA, Eigen-Stance, Population HMM, baseline, gait biometrics


It has been noticed for a long time that humans can identify others based on their biological movement from a distance. However, it is only recently that computer vision based gait biometrics has received much attention. In this dissertation, we perform a thorough study of gait recognition from a computer vision perspective. We first present a parameterless baseline recognition algorithm, which bases similarity on spatio-temporal correlation that emphasizes gait dynamics as well as gait shapes. Our experiments are performed with three popular gait databases: the USF/NIST HumanID Gait Challenge outdoor database with 122 subjects, the UMD outdoor database with 55 subjects, and the CMU Mobo indoor database with 25 subjects. Despite its simplicity, the baseline algorithm shows strong recognition power. On the other hand, the outcome suggests that changes in surface and time have strong impact on recognition with significant drop in performance. To gain insight into the effects of image segmentation on recognition -- a possible cause for performance degradation, we propose a silhouette reconstruction method based on a Population Hidden Markov Model (pHMM), which models gait over one cycle, coupled with an Eigen-stance model utilizing the Principle Component Analysis (PCA) of the silhouette shapes. Both models are built from a set of manually created silhouettes of 71 subjects. Given a sequence of machine segmented silhouettes, each frame is matched into a stance by pHMM using the Viterbi algorithm, and then is projected into and reconstructed by the Eigen-stance model. We demonstrate that the system dramatically improves the silhouette quality. Nonetheless, it does little help for recognition, indicating that segmentation is not the key factor of the covariate impacts. To improve performance, we look into other aspects. Toward this end, we propose three recognition algorithms: (i) an averaged silhouette based algorithm that deemphasizes gait dynamics, which substantially reduces computation time but achieves similar recognition power with the baseline algorithm; (ii) an algorithm that normalizes gait dynamics using pHMM and then uses Euclidean distance between corresponding selected stances -- this improves recognition over surface and time; and (iii) an algorithm that also performs gait dynamics normalization using pHMM, but instead of Euclidean distances, we consider distances in shape space based on the Linear Discriminant Analysis (LDA) and consider measures that are invariant to morphological deformation of silhouettes. This algorithm statistically improves the recognition over all covariates. Compared with the best reported algorithm to date, it improves the top-rank identification rate (gallery size: 122 subjects) for comparison across hard covariates: briefcase, surface type and time, by 22%, 14%, and 12% respectively. In addition to better gait algorithms, we also study multi-biometrics combination to improve outdoor biometric performance, specifically, fusing with face data. We choose outdoor face recognition, a "known" hard problem in face biometrics, and test four combination schemes: score sum, Bayesian rule, confidence score sum, and rank sum. We find that the recognition power after combination is significantly stronger although individual biometrics are weak, suggesting another effective approach to improve biometric recognition. The fundamental contributions of this work include (i) establishing the "hard" problems for gait recognition involving comparison across time, surface, and briefcase carrying conditions, (ii) revealing that their impacts cannot be explained by silhouette segmentation, (iii) demonstrating that gait shape is more important than gait dynamics in recognition, and (iv) proposing a novel gait algorithm that outperforms other gait algorithms to date.