Statistics with a human face

Adrian Bowman (University of Glasgow, UK)

Human faces are of intrinsic interest to us all but the study of facial shape also has many biological and anatomical applications. For example, these include assessing the outcome of facial surgery and investigating the possible developmental origins of some adult conditions. Advances in accessible forms of 3D imaging are making this kind of data much more accessible. For analysis, an initial challenge is to structure the raw images by identifying features of the face. Ridge and valley curves provide a very good intermediate level at which to approach this, as these provide a good compromise between informative representations of shape and simplicity of structure. Some of the issues involved in analysing data of this type will be discussed and illustrated. Modelling issues include simple comparison of groups, the measurement of asymmetry and longitudinal patterns of shape change. This last topic is relevant at short scale in facial animation, medium scale in individual growth patterns, and very long scale in phylogenetic studies.