Latent fingerprints are important evidences used by law enforcement agencies. However, current state-of-the-art for automatic latent fingerprint recognition is not as reliable as live-scan fingerprints and advancements are required in every step of the recognition pipeline. This research focuses on automatically segmenting latent fingerprints to distinguish between ridge and non-ridge patterns. There are three major contributions of this research: (i) a machine learning algorithm for combining five different categories of features for automatic latent fingerprint segmentation, (ii) a feature selection technique using modified RELIEF formulation for analyzing the influence of multiple category features on latent fingerprint segmentation, and (iii) a novel SIVV based metric to measure the effect of the segmentation algorithm without the requirement to perform the entire matching process. The image is tessellated into local patches and saliency based features along with image, gradient, ridge, and quality based features are extracted. Feature selection is performed to study the contribution of the various category features towards foreground ridge pattern representation. Using these selected features, a trained Random Decision Forest based algorithm classifies the local patches as background or foreground. The results on three publicly available databases demonstrate the efficacy of the proposed algorithm. © 2016 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.