The trouble with facial-recognition software is faces. A computer probably wouldn’t recognize Osama Bin Laden if the lighting or his expression didn’t match those in a database. Using a specialized form of mathematics called tensor algebra, Alex Vasilescu- a research scientist at New York University and a computer science PhD candidate at the University of Toronto- has developed breakthrough recognition algorithms called TensorFaces. The algorithms promise to enhance computers’ ability to match multiple characteristics of a face in way that overcome vagaries of shading , angle, or expression. The U.S. Department of Defense is funding Vasilescu’s research because of its antiterrorism potential. She can also generate “motion signatures” on the basis of a person’s gait- walking, dancing, or running. Such gait changes can indicate the onset of certain illnesses. Finally, Vasilescu’s algorithms could help computers impart realistic textures to images of hair and fabric, which could yield better graphics for video games and movies.