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In this paper, we introduce the Minutia Cylinder-Code (MCC): a novel representation based on 3D data structures (called cylinders), built from minutiae distances and angles. The cylinders can be created starting from a subset of the mandatory features (minutiae position and direction) defined by standards like ISO/IEC 19794-2 (2005). Thanks to the cylinder invariance, fixed-length, and bit-oriented coding, some simple but very effective metrics can be defined to compute local similarities and to consolidate them into a global score. Extensive experiments over FVC2006 databases prove the superiority of MCC with respect to three well-known techniques and demonstrate the feasibility of obtaining a very effective (and interoperable) fingerprint recognition implementation for light architectures.