In modern face recognition, the conventional pipeline consists of four stages: detect => align => represent => classify. We revisit both the alignment step and the representation step by employing explicit 3D face modeling in order to apply a piecewise affine transformation, and derive a face representation from a nine-layer deep neural network. This deep network involves more than 120 million parameters using several locally connected layers without weight sharing, rather than the standard convolutional layers. Thus we trained it on the largest facial dataset to-date, an identity labeled dataset of four million facial images belonging to more than 4,000 identities.
The learned representations coupling the accurate model-based alignment with the large facial database generalize remarkably well to faces in unconstrained environments, even with a simple classifier. Our method reaches an accuracy of 97.35% on the Labeled Faces in the Wild (LFW) dataset, reducing the error of the current state of the art by more than 27%, closely approaching human-level performance.