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Fingerprint Testing


Advances standards and metrology in assessing performance of fingerprint system technologies while promoting innovation within industry through coordinated performance assessment activities. Applications are focused on the needs of law enforcement and counterterrorism and include latent fingerprint (ELFT) tests and support to the FBI for IAFIS and NGI.


Measuring the performance of fingerprint systems is challenging because:

  1. Many component technologies are required, including lossy compression, quality assessment, image enhancement, feature extraction, pattern recognition, n-stage matching, 1-to-1 verification, and 1-to-N identification;
  2. Government fingerprint applications are growing to 100’s of millions of enrolled subjects;
  3. These systems must provide utility for the benefit of the country in the midst of errors, including failure to acquire, failure to segment, false matches, and false rejects.

To address these challenges, empirical benchmark studies are needed to measure and study these sources of error. Otherwise, decision makers and procurement officials are left to work with unverified claims of performance and capability.


The group works closely with other agency partners, including the FBI, DHS, and DOD in order to assess the performance of technologies used in very large scale fingerprint systems such as FBI IAFIS & NGI, DHS US-VISIT/IDENT, and DOD ABIS. These activities support national applications of law enforcement and counterterrorism.

Major Accomplishments:


  1. The Proprietary Fingerprint Template test was overhauled and PFTII was launched. The old testing protocol had been in place since 2003, and the performance of state of the art fingerprint matchers had matured to where top-performers were tightly grouped. The revamped protocol includes more biometric samples, new sources and types of fingerprint samples, and new performance metrics including throughput times.
  2. Several NIST staff (Craig Watson, Shahram Orandi, and John Libert) received the FBI CJIS Division Assistant Director's Award for their innovative work and achievements in developing several algorithms that had direct operational impact on the FBI's Integrated Automated Fingerprint System (IAFIS).


  1. (Qtr 2) The Latent Fingerprint Testing Team will publish the results of its latest study on Extended Features Sets (EFS). The effort is assessing the impact and utility of a first-of-its-kind standard superset of minutiae features, which are marked-up by human latent fingerprint examiners, then sent off for latent search and matching. The results show good potential for interoperability, but further testing is needed and already underway. [Lead: Michael Indovina]

Start Date:

July 1, 2003

End Date:


Lead Organizational Unit:


Source of Extramural Funding:

Biometrics STRS



Facilities/Tools Used:

Biometrics Research Lab (A) – Bldg. 225
Biometrics Research Lab (B) – Bldg. 222
Biometrics Research Lab (C) – Bldg. 225


Fred Byers (DMG)
Vladimir Dvornychenko
Michael Garris
Stephen Harvey
Michael Indovina
Kenneth Ko
John Libert
Stephen Wood
Jin Chu Wu
Patrick Grother (Co-PL)
Shahram Orandi (Co-PL)


Patrick Grother
(Information Access Division)

Shahram Orandi
(Information Access Division)