15.639 handwriting recognition

From: Humanist Discussion Group (by way of Willard McCarty (w.mccarty@btinternet.com)
Date: Mon May 06 2002 - 05:58:11 EDT

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                   Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 15, No. 639.
           Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London

             Date: Mon, 06 May 2002 10:54:35 +0100
             From: Bill Schipper <schipper@mun.ca>
             Subject: Re: 15.636 handwriting recognition

    But if you look at the Buffalo site, you'll notice among other things, that
    it is hosting the Eighth
    International Workshop on Frontiers in Handwriting Recognition at
    Niagara-on-the-Lake on August 4-8
    2002. The web site for the Workshop is

    I've always wished for an accurate way of scanning manuscripts. My own
    preoccupation is with Rabanus Maurus's De rerum naturis, which survives in
    about 50 MSS, from the 9th to the 15th century, and thus comes in a variety
    of scripts. I worked with a colleague at Memorial for a while, who was
    working on OCR for handwritten Chinese, but nothing came of our association
    due to other commitments.


    "Humanist Discussion Group (by way of Willard McCarty )" wrote:
    > Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 15, No. 636.
    > Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London

    > <http://www.kcl.ac.uk/humanities/cch/humanist/>
    > [1] From: "C. Perry Willett" <pwillett@indiana.edu> (21)
    > >
    > [2] From: "Al Magary" <al@magary.com> (10)
    > Subject: Re: 15.635 OCR for handwriting?
    > [3] From: Willard McCarty <w.mccarty@btinternet.com> (39)
    > Subject: handwriting recognition
    > Date: Sun, 05 May 2002 06:43:52 +0100
    > From: "C. Perry Willett" <pwillett@indiana.edu>
    > Subject: Re: 15.635 OCR for handwriting?
    >Things may not be as hopeful as they appear. If you follow the
    >link up to the cover page of the report that Willard notes,
    >you'll see that it's from 1996. In fact, research on OCR has
    >dropped off a good deal since then. If you look at the Information
    >Science Research Institute at Univ of Nevada, Las Vegas
    ><<http://www.isri.unlv.edu>http://www.isri.unlv.edu> or the Center of
    >Excellence for
    >Document Analysis and Recognition at Univ of Buffalo
    ><<http://www.cedar.buffalo.edu>http://www.cedar.buffalo.edu> you'll note
    >that their publications
    >have tailed off in recent years. The Institute at UNLV used to produce
    >an annual report on OCR accuracy, but hasn't done one since 1996. I
    >don't think OCR for either printed or handwritten texts has advanced
    >much in the past few years.
    >Perry Willett
    >Main Library
    >Indiana University
    >On Sat, 4 May 2002, Humanist Discussion Group (by way of Willard McCarty
    > <w.mccarty@btinternet.com>) wrote:
    > > A brief look around the Web turns up, for example, a report from the
    > Center
    > > for Spoken Language Understanding, Oregon Graduate Institute of
    > Science and
    > > Technology, "OCR: handwriting",
    > >

    > which makes one hopeful.
    > Date: Sun, 05 May 2002 06:44:15 +0100
    > From: "Al Magary" <al@magary.com>
    > Subject: Re: 15.635 OCR for handwriting?
    > > ...at the moment, I am strongly considering committing myself to
    > > producing an authorised edition of ca 1,000 unpublished letters by
    > > However, I have no funding set up, and since many of the letters are
    > > handwritten, I was wondering if you have any more recent information
    > > OCR software that recognizes handwriting?
    >A Google search for material about Apple's Newton would probably turn up
    >quite a bit about the problems of handwriting recognition, and maybe some
    >solutions that evaded Apple.
    >Al Magary
    > Date: Sun, 05 May 2002 07:10:07 +0100
    > From: Willard McCarty <w.mccarty@btinternet.com>
    > Subject: handwriting recognition
    >Two points, neither of which will be comforting to the questioner, I'm
    >(1) Hand-transcription, i.e. typing from the mss., has much to recommend it
    >in comparison to OCR. For mss. of course no off-shore company would be able
    >to deliver the well-known favourable rates of accuracy at lost cost for
    >printed material -- which is, I understand, why so many projects elect to
    >have their printed material digitized in that way. But hand-transcription
    >is one way of becoming very familiar with the material, and with sufficient
    >preparation can be done simultaneously with some amount of encoding. Any
    >comments on this?
    >(2) As a friend commented to me, the brilliance of the
    >handwriting-recognition scheme used by the Palm and similar devices, in
    >contrast to the Newton's, is that it assigns to the human user what he or
    >she is good at by nature -- learning an arbitrary (but intelligently
    >designed) set of gestures -- and to the machine what it is, at this stage
    >of development, as much as such a thing can handle. I use the "Graffiti"
    >system almost daily on my Palm, while making the trip into Central London
    >by tube, for taking notes on the books I must devour for my research. I can
    >write quite rapidly and accurately that way -- the Palm filters out the
    >irregularities that were all too visible in the handwritten notes I used to
    >take on 3x5 cards, allows me to write much more in each note and delivers
    >the lot to my larger machines already in electronic form, so no labourious
    >transcription -- which means that I actually do use the notes, rather than
    >assign them to a graveyard-archive of curious artefacts which rapidly
    >become unintelligible because each note was perforce so brief.
    >Things like the Palm are becoming rapidly more powerful, of course. (As
    >Bill Wulf once calculated, a musical greeting card chip has approximately
    >the same amount of computing power as the ENIAC did; what a hand the Palm
    >would once have required!) But for us I think it's rather important to see
    >in the very clever combination of human intelligence with machine power a
    >paradigm that won't change. The apparent goal of at least some work in CS
    >is to get the human out of the picture. Which, I think, is one thing that
    >Winograd and Flores, in Understanding Computers and Cognition, are strongly
    >arguing against.
    >Dr Willard McCarty, Senior Lecturer,
    >Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London,
    >Strand, London WC2R 2LS, U.K.,
    >+44 (0)20 7848-2784, ilex.cc.kcl.ac.uk/wlm/,
    >willard.mccarty@kcl.ac.uk, w.mccarty@btinternet.com

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