Biometric experts have found that while human fingerprints do change over the course of aging, that the alterations are not significant enough to confuse modern fingerprint sensors.Anil Jain, University Distinguished Professor, computer science and engineering, at Michigan State University and his former Ph.D. student Soweon Yoon have co-authored a report which aims to tackle the issue of fingerprint patterns changing over time.”Despite its successful deployment, the fundamental premise of fingerprint-based identification – persistence and uniqueness of fingerprints – has not yet been well studied, resulting in challenges to the admissibility of friction ridge evidence in courts of law”, write the authors in “Longitudinal study of fingerprint recognition”.”We wanted to answer the question that has plagued law enforcement and forensic science for decades: Is fingerprint pattern persistent over time?” said Jain, in a statement to the university's newspaper. “We have now determined, with multilevel statistical modeling, that fingerprint recognition accuracy remains stable over time.”Published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the report used fingerprint records of 15,597 subjects apprehended multiple times by the Michigan State Police over a time span varying from five to 12 years.Genuine match scores tend to decrease as the subject's age increases or when the fingerprint image quality decreases, wrote Jain and Yoon. However, despite the downward trend in genuine match scores over time, “the probability of true acceptance, at operational FAR settings, remains close to 1.0 (up to 12 y, the maximum time span in the dataset)”.However, the researchers also said that the uncertainty of temporal stability of fingerprint recognition accuracy becomes substantially large if either of the two fingerprints being compared is of poor quality.Other experts have welcomed the report, saying it will boost forensic teams' identifying efforts.”This study is a monumental achievement and one that will benefit forensic science teams worldwide,” said Captain Greg Michaud, director of the Forensic Science Division, Michigan State Police.”Jain's analytic quantification on fingerprint persistence of the results significantly support early studies on fingerprint persistence and yet further support legal requirements for peer review and publication,” said Jim Loudermilk, senior level technologist at the FBI Science and Technology Branch.