Humans detect and interpret faces and facial expressions in a scene with little or no effort. Still, development of an automated system that accomplishes this task is rather difficult. There are several related problems: detection of an image segment as a face, extraction of the facial expression information, and classification of the expression (e.g., in emotion categories). A system that performs these operations accurately and in real time would form a big step in achieving a human-like interaction between man and machine. The paper surveys the past work in solving these problems. The capability of the human visual system with respect to these problems is discussed, too. It is meant to serve as an ultimate goal and a guide for determining recommendations for development of an automatic facial expression analyzer.