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Can Biometrics ID an Identical Twin?

Notre Dame researchers put face-recognition software to the "torture test": genetically identical people

3 min read

23 March 2011—It was a rainy August morning in Twinsburg, Ohio, but the Twins Days Festival 2009 was getting off to a grand start. University of Notre Dame professors Kevin W. Bowyer and Patrick J. Flynn took their places in their research tent as people began to wander, in duplicate, across the festival grounds. While this annual gathering of twins welcomes fraternal twins too, the high number of identical twins who congregate every year in Twinsburg made it an ideal location for these scientists to put face-recognition software to the ultimate test.

"[The festival] was a fascinating event from a research perspective," says Flynn. "For the festival, twins go to great pains to look as identical as it’s possible to look. The women told us they picked out their outfits and jewelry months in advance." All that planning makes for cute pictures, but it also sets up quite a challenge: Can the best state-of-the-art face-recognition programs distinguish between two genetically identical people who are trying to be indistinguishable?

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Why Functional Programming Should Be the Future of Software Development

It’s hard to learn, but your code will produce fewer nasty surprises

11 min read
A plate of spaghetti made from code
Shira Inbar

You’d expectthe longest and most costly phase in the lifecycle of a software product to be the initial development of the system, when all those great features are first imagined and then created. In fact, the hardest part comes later, during the maintenance phase. That’s when programmers pay the price for the shortcuts they took during development.

So why did they take shortcuts? Maybe they didn’t realize that they were cutting any corners. Only when their code was deployed and exercised by a lot of users did its hidden flaws come to light. And maybe the developers were rushed. Time-to-market pressures would almost guarantee that their software will contain more bugs than it would otherwise.

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