Decoding Cursive Scripts

Part of Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 6 (NIPS 1993)

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Yoram Singer, Naftali Tishby


Online cursive handwriting recognition is currently one of the most intriguing challenges in pattern recognition. This study presents a novel approach to this problem which is composed of two comple(cid:173) mentary phases. The first is dynamic encoding of the writing tra(cid:173) jectory into a compact sequence of discrete motor control symbols. In this compact representation we largely remove the redundancy of the script, while preserving most of its intelligible components. In the second phase these control sequences are used to train adaptive probabilistic acyclic automata (PAA) for the important ingredients of the writing trajectories, e.g. letters. We present a new and effi(cid:173) cient learning algorithm for such stochastic automata, and demon(cid:173) strate its utility for spotting and segmentation of cursive scripts. Our experiments show that over 90% of the letters are correctly spotted and identified, prior to any higher level language model. Moreover, both the training and recognition algorithms are very efficient compared to other modeling methods, and the models are 'on-line' adaptable to other writers and styles.