It looks like the front end of the winter bash this year attempts to find the head in the gravatar image, and "fit" the hat to it. The algorithm does an amazing job!

Did Stack Exchange develop this algorithm internally, or used an existing implementation of an algorithm that looks for a face in an image?

EDIT : Never mind, somehow I missed the control that lets you move the hat manually, and assumed that the placements on other users' gravatars happened automatically.

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    This question appears to be off-topic because it is about an algorithm that does not exist!! – Hugo Dozois Dec 16 '13 at 20:43
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    It seems so random though. Almost as if the users are moving it themselves! :P – Travis J Dec 16 '13 at 20:48
  • I thought it is a Jquery plugin ;) My bad. No. – Suresh Atta Dec 30 '13 at 17:58

Ahem, the algorithm you mean is entirely biological. Users can move the hat position manually, there is no automatic matching.

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    (facepalm) That explains it!!! – dasblinkenlight Dec 16 '13 at 20:42
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    We stand on the forefront of a new frontier for the field of image processing, leveraging evolutionary design and repurposing biological systems to take quantum strides in reliability and precision for algorithmic facial recognition. – jscs Dec 16 '13 at 20:57
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    @dasblinkenlight please don't think less of us now. – Jin Dec 16 '13 at 21:01
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    @Josh relevant: smbc-comics.com/?id=2628 – Marc Gravell Dec 16 '13 at 21:02
  • Indeed, @MarcGravell. In this case, the stride is so small it's backwards! – jscs Dec 16 '13 at 21:04
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    @Jin This is a good lesson in software design for me :-) – dasblinkenlight Dec 16 '13 at 21:12

Actually, I'm pretty sure it just sticks it in premade places (masks in the center, hats on top), and allows you to move them around as you like (drag it when choosing a hat).

I haven't seen any special algo or matching to it.

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