John Daugman is the inventor of iris recognition, biometric algorithms for identifying persons reliably and rapidly using the random texture visible in the iris of an eye from some distance. Encoded iris patterns yield much entropy, enabling recognition decisions to be made with confidence levels high enough to search national-sized databases without collisions, and at speeds of millions per second per CPU core. The underlying principle is the failure of a test of statistical independence on iris pattern phase sequences encoded using complex-valued wavelets.
Today there are many public employments of Daugman’s algorithms worldwide, mainly in national ID programs, at airport immigration control instead of passports, in access control, and in watch-lists, including terrorist tracking in middle-east war zones. In civilian applications some 260 million persons have been registered. The government of India is enrolling the iris patterns of all 1.2 billion citizens to secure benefits entitlements “to give the poor an identity.” Daugman’s algorithms perform hundreds of trillions of iris cross-comparisons every day because of the need to search for duplicate identities as databases are built.
Daugman received A.B. and Ph.D. degrees at Harvard University and taught at Harvard before coming to Cambridge University where he is Professor of Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition. He has also held the Johann Bernoulli Chair of Mathematics and Informatics at the University of Groningen and the Toshiba Endowed Chair at the Tokyo Institute of Technology. His honors include the Information Technology Award of the British Computer Society and the OBE, Order of the British Empire.