A survey of face recognition techniques under occlusion

Dan Zeng, Raymond Veldhuis*, Luuk Spreeuwers

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articleAcademicpeer-review

64 Citations (Scopus)
124 Downloads (Pure)


The limited capacity to recognise faces under occlusions is a long-standing problem that presents a unique challenge for face recognition systems and even humans. The problem regarding occlusion is less covered by research when compared to other challenges such as pose variation, different expressions, etc. Nevertheless, occluded face recognition is imperative to exploit the full potential of face recognition for real-world applications. In this article, the scope to occluded face recognition is restricted and a systematic categorisation that new as well as classic methods fit into is presented. First, the authors explore the kind of the occlusion problem and the type of inherent difficulties that can arise. As a part of this review, face detection under occlusion, a preliminary step in face recognition. Second the authors analyse how the existing face recognition methods cope with the occlusion problem and classify them into three categories, which are given as: 1) occlusion robust feature extraction approaches, 2) occlusion aware face recognition approaches, and 3) occlusion recovery based face recognition approaches. Furthermore, the motivations, innovations, pros and cons, and the performance of representative approaches for comparison are analyzed. Finally, future challenges and method trends of occluded face recognition are thoroughly discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)581-606
Number of pages26
JournalIET biometrics
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2021


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