Where are the search engines for handwritten documents?

T. Zant, L. Schomaker, S. Zinger, H. Schie

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


Although the problems of optical character recognition for contemporary printed text have been resolved, for historical printed and handwritten connected cursive text (i.e. western style writing), they have not. This does not mean that scanning historical documents is not useful. This article describes our research on retrieving digitized handwritten documents containing the information that the user is looking for. This task is essential for optimizing the archive's work. We investigated how to process historical documents and their transcriptions, so that a super computer could learn how to read. We applied artificial intelligence techniques to a large amount of image data and created a search engine. Our methods often require that the computer learns in interaction with a human. We have studied the requests of archive users in order to bring our research as close as possible to the current information needs. Our system learns continuously, allowing the constant improvement of search results. User requests stimulated us to delve into an unsolved topic: to search for the most elusive knowledge in text, namely the names of people and places. The solutions are described in this article.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)228-235
JournalInterdisciplinary Science Reviews
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2009


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