Blogging About Data


“All data has its beauty, but not everyone sees it.”

Damian Mingle


Facial Expression Recognition

Facial Expression Recognition


Neural Networks have been at the foreground of Computer Science over the last decade, with applications varying from hand writing recognition, audio and video interpretation and facial recognition. With theory based on the biological function of the brain, however, building a neural network is no simple task. Much like teaching a baby through repeated exposure, training an artificial neural network requires large amounts of training data, extensive computing power, is time consuming and can be very expensive.

While there are different types of neural networks, we focus our attention on Convolution Neural Networks (CNN), which are primarily used in computer vision and image classification tasks. CNN’s are composed of a series of layers designed to extract and filter relevant features from an input image, passing them to the next layers for further processing via a series of neurons. Similarly to how the biological visual system work, the input image is broken into overlapping regions known as receptive fields, from which these features are extracted. Neurons respond to stimuli from these regions and transfer data to the next layer to extract more complex features, until it output a classification.


Since CNN’s can be complex and time-consuming to build and train from scratch, this process can be bypassed through the use of transfer learning. Transfer learning employs the knowledge of a pre-trained model in order to extract features from a new set of data it has never seen before. This can be likened to the situation where a person who speaks French can apply that base knowledge to learn Spanish, which has similar linguistic roots. Keras neural networks package offers a series of pre-trained models that can be applied for transfer learning, but also allows users to build neural frameworks from scratch, in conjunction with TensorFlow.

In this project we use the Keras package for R in conjunction with TensorFlow to build and train a model to recognize facial expressions. Our data, obtained from Kaggle, contains 7 classes of facial expressions: Angry, Disgust, Fear, Happy, Neutral, Sad and Surprise, already separated into training and validation sets. Due to limitations in computing power and time, we built our model to strictly recognize Happy or Sad expressions. Our initial attempt sought to use transfer learning to compare the ability of 3 pre-tained models, InceptionV3, resNet50 and VGG16, to learn how to recognize these expressions, but were unsuccessful. Ultimately, we built a model for scratch, which we describe below, and created a Shiny app where a user can. . . ..(input an image to see whether model accurately identfies a happy or sad expression.)

Data Preparation

Our dataset had been the previous split into training and test sets, and to reduce the amount of computational power and time needed to train our neural network, we limited our expression classes to “Happy” and “Sad”. Our training set was composed of 7164 Happy images and 4938 Sad images, which our validation set was composed of 1825 Happy images and 1139 Sad images, all of size 48 x 48 pixels and greyscale. To begin, these two expression classes were assigned a variable called “face_categories”, with the length of this vector indicating the number of output classes.

Our pre-processing parameters were then defined. Though our images were sized at 48 x 48 pixels, we set our standardized image input size at 244 X 244 pixels, because. . . . . . . . . . . . ..Explain why we increase the size of the image, how does this affect the reduction of computation complexity. Since our images were greyscaled we set the channel number to 1. The directory from which the training and validation images would be called was then defined, and their corresponding image data generators were set to normalize each pixel from values between 0 and 255 to values between 0 and 1. The images were then loaded from the assigned path, applying all the defined pre-processing parameters that would allow the data to then be passed into the convolutional layers.

poopweop <- 3450
test poop <- "pooper"

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