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A training process for facial expression recognition is usually performed sequentially in three individual stages: feature learning, feature selection, and classifier construction. Extensive empirical studies are needed to search for an optimal combination of feature representation, feature set, and classifier to achieve good recognition performance. This paper presents a novel Boosted Deep Belief Network (BDBN) for performing the three training stages iteratively in a unified loopy framework. Through the proposed BDBN framework, a set of features, which is effective to characterize expression-related facial appearance/shape changes, can be learned and selected to form a boosted strong classifier in a statistical way. As learning continues, the strong classifier is improved iteratively and more importantly, the discriminative capabilities of selected features are strengthened as well according to their relative importance to the strong classifier via a joint fine-tune process in the BDBN framework. Extensive experiments on two public databases showed that the BDBN framework yielded dramatic improvements in facial expression analysis.
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