Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department

Computer Science

Major Professor

Sudeep Sarkar, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Dmitry Goldgof, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Barbara Loeding, Ph.D.


Expectation Maximization, Relational Distributions, Space of Probablity Function, Face Detection and Tracking, Principal Component Analysis


Continuous recognition of sign language has many practical applications and it can help to improve the quality of life of deaf persons by facilitating their interaction with hearing populace in public situations. This has led to some research in automated continuous American Sign Language recognition. But most work in continuous ASL recognition has only used top-down Hidden Markov Model (HMM) based approaches for recognition. There is no work on using facial information, which is considered to be fairly important. In this thesis, we explore bottom-up approach based on the use of Relational Distributions and Space of Probability Functions (SoPF) for intermediate level ASL recognition. We also use non-manual information, firstly, to decrease the number of deletion and insertion errors and secondly, to find whether the ASL sentence has 'Negation' in it, for which we use motion trajectories of the face. The experimental results show:

  • The SoPF representation works well for ASL recognition. The accuracy based on the number of deletion errors, considering the 8 most probable signs in the sentence is 95%, while when considering 6 most probable signs, is 88%.
  • Using facial or non-manual information increases accuracy when we consider top 6 signs, from 88% to 92%. Thus face does have information content in it.
  • It is difficult to directly combine the manual information (information from hand motion) with non-manual (facial information) to improve the accuracy because of following two reasons:
  1. Manual images are not synchronized with the non-manual images. For example the same facial expressions is not present at the same manual position in two instances of the same sentences.
  2. One another problem in finding the facial expresion related with the sign, occurs when there is presence of a strong non-manual indicating 'Assertion' or 'Negation' in the sentence. In such cases the facial expressions are totally dominated by the face movements which is indicated by 'head shakes' or 'head nods'.
  • The number of sentences, that have 'Negation' in them and are correctly recognized with the help of motion trajectories of the face are, 27 out of 30.