Math in the Media

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Mathematical Digest

Short Summaries of Articles about Mathematics
in the Popular Press

"The eyes have it," by Lawrence Cumbo et al, National Geographic, April2002.

Mathematically-based iris recognition verified the identity of Sharbat Gula, 17years after her famous photograph appeared on the cover of the magazine. Manypeople are familiar with the striking photograph--especially the eyes--of theAfghan refugee in 1985: This issue includes that photograph and a current oneopposite of the woman. "The inventor of automatic iris recognition, JohnDaugman, a professor of computer science at Cambridge University, England,mathematically determined that the eyes belong to the same person. Irispatterns, like fingerprints, are unique and can be used for identification."The rest of the story focuses on the woman's difficult life--recorded in thearticle and current photograph, reflected in what we can see in her eyes andface without the aid of science.

--- Annette Emerson