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biometrics, in biology


also known as




in biology, the development and application of statistical and mathematical methods to the analysis of data resulting from biological observations and phenomena. Biometrics is used in clinical trials evaluating the relative effectiveness of different therapies; in genetic and genomic studies of the makeup of nucleotide sequences in an organism; in epidemiological studies of the patterns, causes, and control of diseases and public health problems; and in many other areas of biological research. Although the terms biometry and biostatistics are often used interchangeably, the former is now more frequently applied to agricultural and biological applications while the latter is more frequently applied to medical applications. Biometrics played a key role in the development of modern biology. The rediscovery of Gregor MendelMendel, Gregor Johann
, 1822–84, Austrian monk noted for his experimental work on heredity. He entered the Augustinian monastery in Brno in 1843, taught at a local secondary school, and carried out independent scientific investigations on garden peas and other plants until
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's work in the early 1900s led to conceptual gaps between the proponents of geneticsgenetics,
scientific study of the mechanism of heredity. While Gregor Mendel first presented his findings on the statistical laws governing the transmission of certain traits from generation to generation in 1856, it was not until the discovery and detailed study of the
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 and evolutionary DarwinismDarwinism,
concept of evolution developed in the mid-19th cent. by Charles Robert Darwin. Darwin's meticulously documented observations led him to question the then current belief in special creation of each species.
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. By the 1930s, after vigorous debate, models built on statistical reasoning had resolved most of the differences to produce a coherent biology.

biometrics, in security and personal identification


in security and personal identification, the electronic verification of individuals using biological traits, such as iris or retinal scanning, fingerprintsfingerprint,
an impression of the underside of the end of a finger or thumb, used for identification because the arrangement of ridges in any fingerprint is thought to be unique and permanent with each person (no two persons having the same prints have ever been found).
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, or face recognition, and the technology used in verification. The main operations involved in a biometric system are called enrollment and test; during enrollment an individual's biometric information is collected and stored, while during test the incoming information is compared against the version stored during enrollment. A functioning system typically answers three questions: Is the person who he or she claims to be (verification)? Who is the person (identification)? Is there anything special about the person, for example, is he or she allowed access to a restricted area (screening)? The increasing use of biometric systems in both industrial (e.g., attendance tracking) and security (e.g., airport check-in) environments has raised privacy concerns. Additionally, reports of commercially available units being compromised have raised security issues, and medical issues, such as retinal scanners transmitting infections, also exist. Nonetheless, the early 21st cent. has seen an increasing use of the technology in the United States and Great Britain in schools, especially as replacements for library cards and meal tickets, and in a number of nations in passports and identification cards.


The use of statistics to analyze observations of biological phenomena.


, biometrics
a. the analysis of biological data using mathematical and statistical methods
b. the practice of digitally scanning the physiological or behavioural characteristics of individuals as a means of identification
2. the statistical calculation of the probable duration of human life


(security, hardware)
The use of special input devices to analyse some physical parameter assumed to be unique to an individual, in order to confirm their identity as part of an authentication procedure.

Examples include fingerprint scanning, iris recognition, facial recognition, voice recognition (speaker recognition), signature, vascular pattern recognition.


(1) The measurement of the physical characteristics of a person. See wearable computing and smart clothes.

(2) The biological identification of a person. Examples are face, iris and retinal patterns, hand geometry and voice. Increasingly built into laptop computers and smartphones, fingerprint readers have become popular as a secure method for identification. Biometrics not only deals with static patterns, but action as well. The dynamics of writing one's signature as well as typing on the keyboard can be analyzed (see biometric signature and keyboard biometrics).

Biometrics may be the primary or secondary mechanism for authentication (see two-factor authentication).

More Secure Than Passwords
Biometrics are a more secure form of authentication than typing passwords or even using smart cards, which can be stolen. However, methods can be circumvented; for example, fingerprints captured from a water glass can fool scanners. See authentication and face recognition.

A Biometric Mouse
SecuGen's EyeD Mouse includes a fingerprint reader on the thumb side of the device. It takes less than a second for the EyeD Mouse to verify a fingerprint. (Image courtesy of SecuGen Corporation,