Massimo Tistarelli

Face Recognition: A Vision Ahead - Reflections on 30 Years of Face Recognition Research


Face recognition is possibly one of the most successful applications of Computer Vision and AI. Today’s information technology allowed to deploy face recognition in several domains, ranging from automated border control to mobile device authentication. Even though the progress in computing power and machine learning allowed to implement very fast and efficient systems, there are still several issues which remain unsolved. On the other hand, the basic “face recognition pipeline”, conceived 30 years ago, still remains unaltered. As such, we need to learn from the past and address some research questions which are still unanswered. Among them: 1. If face recognition is a “solved” problem, why are we still doing research on this topic? 2. What are the drawbacks and limitations of current deep learning models? How far can we go by exploiting increasing amounts of face data? 3. Is the human visual system still the best comparative face recognition model? If so, what can we learn from the way humans recognize faces? 4. How can we build “ethical” systems which propery address current privacy concerns? In this talk we’ll address these questions, trying to envisage a path forward with the aim of driving our research curiosity towards the design of tomorrow’s intelligent machines.


Massimo Tistarelli received the Phd in Computer Science and Robotics in 1991 from the University of Genoa. He is Full Professor in Computer Science (with tenure) and director of the Computer Vision Laboratory at the University of Sassari, Italy. Since 1986 he has been involved as project coordinator and task manager in several projects on computer vision and biometrics funded by the European Community.

Since 1994 he has been the director of the Computer Vision Laboratory at the Department of Communication, Computer and Systems Science of the University of Genoa, and now at the University of Sassari, leading several National and European projects on computer vision applications and image-based biometrics.

Prof. Tistarelli is a founding member of the Biosecure Foundation, which includes all major European research centers working in biometrics. His main research interests cover biological and artificial vision (particularly in the area of recognition, three-dimensional reconstruction and dynamic scene analysis), pattern recognition, biometrics, visual sensors, robotic navigation and visuo-motor coordination. He is one of the world-recognized leading researchers in the area of biometrics, especially in the field of face recognition and multimodal fusion. He is coauthor of more than 150 scientific papers in peer reviewed books, conferences and international journals. He is the principal editor for the Springer books “Handbook of Remote Biometrics” and “Handbook of Biometrics for Forensic Science”.

Prof. Tistarelli organized and chaired several world-recognized several scientific events and conferences in the area of Computer Vision and Biometrics, and he has been associate editor for several scientific journals including IEEE Transactions on PAMI, IET Biometrics, Image and Vision Computing and Pattern Recognition Letters.

Since 2003 he is the founding director for the Int.l Summer School on Biometrics (now at the 20th edition – http://biometrics.uniss.it). He is a Fellow member of the IAPR and Senior member of IEEE, and Vice President of the IEEE Biometrics Council. In 2022 he has been awarded the “Meritorious Service Award” from the IEEE Biometrics Council.

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