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A number of new techniques and approaches for off-line handwritten character recognition are presented which individually make significant advancements in the field.
First. an outline-based vectorization algorithm is described which gives improved accuracy in producing vector representations of the pen strokes used to draw characters. Later. Vectorization and other types of preprocessing are criticized and an approach to recognition is suggested which avoids separate preprocessing stages by incorporating them into later stages. Apart from the increased speed of this approach. it allows more effective alteration of the character images since more is known about them at the later stages. It also allows the possibility of alterations being corrected if they are initially detrimental to recognition.
A new feature measurement. the Radial Distance/Sector Area feature. is presented which is highly robust. tolerant to noise. distortion and style variation. and gives high accuracy results when used for training and testing in a statistical or neural classifier. A very powerful classifier is therefore obtained for recognizing correctly segmented characters. The segmentation task is explored in a simple system of integrated over-segmentation. Character classification and approximate dictionary checking. This can be extended to a full system for handprinted word recognition.
In addition to the advancements made by these methods. a powerful new approach to handwritten character recognition is proposed as a direction for future research. This proposal combines the ideas and techniques developed in this thesis in a hierarchical network of classifier modules to achieve context-sensitive. off-line recognition of handwritten text. A new type of "intelligent" feedback is used to direct the search to contextually sensible classifications. A powerful adaptive segmentation system is proposed which. when used as the bottom layer in the hierarchical network. allows initially incorrect segmentations to be adjusted according to the hypotheses of the higher level context modules.
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