We write to honor and remember a truly remarkable man, John Daugman, whose pioneering work in biometrics has left an indelible mark on the world. John’s life was one of extraordinary achievement, profound intellect, and unwavering dedication to advancing the field of biometric technology. His legacy is one that will endure for generations, as his contributions have shaped the very fabric of our modern security systems.

John Daugman was more than just a scientist; he was a visionary whose groundbreaking work on iris recognition revolutionized the way we think about personal identification and security. His pioneering research laid the foundation for the development of robust, reliable, and highly accurate biometric systems that are now used worldwide. Through his innovative algorithms and deep understanding of the complexities of the human iris, John created a method of identification that is both secure and seamless, enhancing the safety and privacy of countless individuals across the globe.

Born with an insatiable curiosity and a keen mind, John pursued his passion for mathematics and computer science with relentless determination. His journey took him from the halls of Harvard University, where he earned his BS and PhD, to the University of Cambridge, where he became a beloved professor and mentor to many.

His academic achievements were numerous, and his work garnered widespread recognition and accolades. John’s contributions to iris recognition technology were nothing short of revolutionary. He developed the first practical algorithms for identifying individuals based on the unique patterns in their irises, which are as distinct as fingerprints. His invention of the Daugman algorithm, which encodes the iris pattern into a compact and mathematically rich representation, was a breakthrough that transformed the field. This algorithm is capable of comparing iris patterns with extraordinary precision, making it one of the most reliable methods for biometric identification. Its robustness and precision have made iris recognition a preferred method in high-security environments, such as airports, government facilities, and secure access points.

John’s innovations did not stop at algorithm development. He played a pivotal role in the implementation and deployment of iris recognition systems in real-world applications. His work enabled secure border crossings, streamlined identity verification processes, and enhanced security measures in multiple sectors. The widespread adoption of iris recognition technology is a testament to the reliability and effectiveness of John’s contributions.

During an illustrious career, John received numerous awards and honors recognizing his exceptional contributions. These include an OBE (Order of the British Empire) for his services to technology, the Information Technology Award from the British Computer Society, and the European Inventor Award. These awards recognize his innovative spirit and the far-reaching implications of his work.

John’s work was widely recognized among his peers. He was elected Fellow of the Institute of Mathematics and its Applications, the International Association for Pattern Recognition, the US National Academy of Inventors, the British Computer Society, and the Royal Academy of Engineering. He was inducted into the US National Inventors Hall of Fame. Early in his career, in 1988, he received an NSF Presidential Young Investigator Award.

John Daugman was a true pioneer, a brilliant mind, and a compassionate soul. His legacy is one of innovation, dedication, and unwavering commitment to making the world a better place. Though he may no longer be with us, his spirit and his contributions will continue to inspire and guide us.

Rest in peace, John. Your legacy will endure, and your impact will be felt for generations to come.


IEEE Biometrics Council and IAPR Technical Committee on Biometrics (TC4)