n. A related set of facial characteristics that a computer uses to recognize a person’s face.

Example Citations:
With its set of 100 eigenfaces, the computer can now easily analyze all the faces in its facebase, each of which can be expressed as a combination of the eigenfaces—more of some, less of others. The eigenfaces are like filters that allow the computer to see just one aspect of a face at a time. They are also a sort of shorthand for describing just how each face differs from the average.
—Evan I Schwartz, “A Face of One’s Own,” Discover, December 1, 1995

Eigenfaces work as “primary faces.” Just as any color can be created by mixing primary colors, any facial image can be built by adding together, with different intensities of light, a relatively small number of eigenfaces (about 100 is enough to identify virtually any person).
—Juan Velasco, “Teaching the Computer to Recognize a Friendly Face,” The New York Times, October 15, 1998

Earliest Citation:
The system functions by projecting face irnagcs onto a feature space that spans the significant variations among known face images. The signi?cant features are known as “eigenfaces,” because they are the eigenvectors (principal components) of the set of faces; they do not neccessarily correspond to features such as eyes. ears, and noses.
—Matthew Turk and Alex Pentland, “Eigenfaces for Recognition,” Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, January 1, 1991

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