Date of Award

Fall 2005

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Computing Sciences - (Ph.D.)


Computer Science

First Advisor

Frank Y. Shih

Second Advisor

James A. McHugh

Third Advisor

Alexandros V. Gerbessiotis

Fourth Advisor

Cristian Borcea

Fifth Advisor

Qun Ma

Sixth Advisor

Sheryl Brahnam


Facial expression provides an important behavioral measure for studies of emotion, cognitive processes, and social interaction. Facial expression representation and recognition have become a promising research area during recent years. Its applications include human-computer interfaces, human emotion analysis, and medical care and cure.

In this dissertation, the fundamental techniques will be first reviewed, and the developments of the novel algorithms and theorems will be presented later. The objective of the proposed algorithm is to provide a reliable, fast, and integrated procedure to recognize either seven prototypical, emotion-specified expressions (e.g., happy, neutral, angry, disgust, fear, sad, and surprise in JAFFE database) or the action units in CohnKanade AU-coded facial expression image database.

A new application area developed by the Infant COPE project is the recognition of neonatal facial expressions of pain (e.g., air puff, cry, friction, pain, and rest in Infant COPE database). It has been reported in medical literature that health care professionals have difficulty in distinguishing newborn's facial expressions of pain from facial reactions of other stimuli. Since pain is a major indicator of medical problems and the quality of patient care depends on the quality of pain management, it is vital that the methods to be developed should accurately distinguish an infant's signal of pain from a host of minor distress signal. The evaluation protocol used in the Infant COPE project considers two conditions: person-dependent and person-independent. The person-dependent means that some data of a subject are used for training and other data of the subject for testing. The person-independent means that the data of all subjects except one are used for training and this left-out one subject is used for testing. In this dissertation, both evaluation protocols are experimented.

The Infant COPE research of neonatal pain classification is a first attempt at applying the state-of-the-art face recognition technologies to actual medical problems. The objective of Infant COPE project is to bypass these observational problems by developing a machine classification system to diagnose neonatal facial expressions of pain. Since assessment of pain by machine is based on pixel states, a machine classification system of pain will remain objective and will exploit the full spectrum of information available in a neonate's facial expressions. Furthermore, it will be capable of monitoring neonate's facial expressions when he/she is left unattended. Experimental results using the Infant COPE database and evaluation protocols indicate that the application of face classification techniques in pain assessment and management is a promising area of investigation.

One of the challenging problems for building an automatic facial expression recognition system is how to automatically locate the principal facial parts since most existing algorithms capture the necessary face parts by cropping images manually. In this dissertation, two systems are developed to detect facial features, especially for eyes. The purpose is to develop a fast and reliable system to detect facial features automatically and correctly. By combining the proposed facial feature detection, the facial expression and neonatal pain recognition systems can be robust and efficient.