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Automatic Signature Verification: Bridging the Gap between Existing Pattern Recognition Methods and Forensic Science

  • The main goal of this thesis is twofold. First, the thesis aims at bridging the gap between existing Pattern Recognition (PR) methods of automatic signature verification and the requirements for their application in forensic science. This gap, attributed by various factors ranging from system definition to evaluation, prevents automatic methods from being used by Forensic Handwriting Examiners (FHEs). Second, the thesis presents novel signature verification methods developed particularly considering the implications of forensic casework, and outperforming the state-of-the-art PR methods. The first goal of the thesis is attributed by four important factors, i.e., data, terminology, output reporting, and how evaluation of automatic systems is carried out today. It is argued that traditionally the signature data used in PR are not actual/close representative of the real world data (especially that available in forensic cases). The systems trained on such data are, therefore, not suitable for forensic environments. This situation can be tackled by providing more realistic data to PR researchers. To this end, various signature and handwriting datasets are gathered in collaboration with FHEs and are made publicly available through the course of this thesis. A special attention is given to disguised signatures--where authentic authors purposefully make their signatures look like a forgery. This genre was at large neglected in PR research previously. The terminology used, in the two communities - PR and FHEs, differ greatly. In fact, even in PR, there is no standard terminology and people often differ in the usage of various terms particularly related to various types of forged signatures/handwriting. The thesis presents a new terminology that is equally useful for both forensic scientists and PR researchers. The proposed terminology is hoped to increase the general acceptability of automatic signature analysis systems in forensic science. The outputs reported by general signature verification systems are not acceptable for FHEs and courts as they are either binary (yes/no) or score (raw evidence) based on similarity/difference. The thesis describes that automatic systems should rather report the probability of observing the evidence (e.g., a certain similarity/difference score) given the signature belongs to the acclaimed identity, and the probability of observing the same evidence given the signature does not belong to the acclaimed identity. This will take automatic systems from hard decisions to soft decisions, thereby enabling them to report likelihood ratios that actually represent the evidential value of the score rather than the raw score (evidence). When automatic systems report soft decisions (as in the form of likelihood ratios), the thesis argues that there must be some methods to evaluate such systems. This thesis presents one such adaptation. The thesis argues that the state-of-the-art evaluation methods, like equal error rate and area under curve, do not address the needs of forensic science. These needs require an assessment of the evidential value of signature verification, rather than a hard/pure classification (accept/reject binary decision). The thesis demonstrates and validates a relatively simple adaptation of the current verification methods based on the Bayesian inference dependent calibration of continuous scores rather than hard classifications (binary and/or score based classification). The second goal of this thesis is to introduce various local features based techniques which are capable of performing signature verification in forensic cases and reporting results as anticipated by FHEs and courts. This is an important contribution of the thesis because of the following two reasons. First, to the best of author's knowledge, local feature descriptors are for the first time used for development of signature verification systems for forensic environments (particularly considering disguised signatures). Previously, such methods have been heavily used for recognition tasks, rather than verification of writing behaviors, such as character and digit recognition. Second, the proposed methods not only report the more traditional decisions (like scores-usually reported in PR) but also the Bayesian inference based likelihood ratios (suitable for courts and forensic cases). Furthermore, the thesis also provides a detailed man vs. machine comparison for signature verification tasks. The men, in this comparison, are forensic scientists serving as forensic handwriting examiners and having experience of varying number of years. The machines are the local features based methods proposed in this thesis, along with various other state-of-the-art signature verification systems. The proposed methods clearly outperform the state-of-the-art systems, and sometimes the human experts. Finally, the thesis details various tasks that have been performed in the areas closely related to signature verification and its application in forensic casework. These include, developing novel local feature based methods for extraction of signatures/handwritten text from document images, hyper-spectral image analysis for extraction of signatures from forensic documents, and analysis of on-line signatures acquired through specialized pens equipped with Accelerometer and Gyroscope. These tasks are important as they enable the thesis to take PR systems one step further close to direct application in forensic cases.

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Author:Muhammad Imran Malik
URN (permanent link):urn:nbn:de:hbz:386-kluedo-42532
Advisor:Andreas Dengel, Marcus Liwicki
Document Type:Doctoral Thesis
Language of publication:English
Publication Date:2015/12/14
Date of first Publication:2015/12/14
Publishing Institute:Technische Universität Kaiserslautern
Granting Institute:Technische Universität Kaiserslautern
Acceptance Date of the Thesis:2015/10/19
Date of the Publication (Server):2015/12/15
Number of page:244
Faculties / Organisational entities:Fachbereich Informatik
DDC-Cassification:0 Allgemeines, Informatik, Informationswissenschaft / 004 Informatik
Licence (German):Standard gemäß KLUEDO-Leitlinien vom 30.07.2015