Chapter 1Introduction to Biometrics 1

Nowadays, biometrics is an emerging technique that allows us to verify the identity of an individual by using one or more of his or her personal characteristics. Its advantage is to increase the level of security by using as an identifier data that cannot be lost, stolen, or tampered with unlike passwords or personal identification number (PIN) codes, since they are directly related to the body or the behavior of the individual. A resurgence of interest in these techniques has been observed since the 2000s, a period when security policies were implemented in the G8 countries following the attacks of 9/11, among others. Recently several big deployments of biometrics systems have taken place. Let us quote the biometric passport, national identity cards and the new census of the Indian population. The purpose of this chapter is to give a brief introduction to biometric systems and to the various challenges that remain to be tackled by researchers of the field, in particular to cope with these large-scale deployments.

1.1. Background: from anthropometry to biometrics

Biometrics first emerged in the late 19th Century for police usage only. The taking of fingerprints, which is the oldest of biometric technologies, ultimately prevailed in the 19th Century for the identification of individuals, including criminals, after the work of various anthropologists, notably the English anthropologist Francis Galton in 1892.

In France, around 1880, Alphonse ...

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