Fujitsu Develops Industry's Most Accurate Handwritten Chinese Character
Recognition Technology Using AI
Uses AI to Mimic Workings of the Human Brain; Wins Mandarin Handwriting
Recognition Competition at largest international conference on document image
Tokyo, Aug 21, 2013 - (JCN Newswire) - Fujitsu Research and Development Center
Co., Ltd. and Fujitsu Laboratories Ltd. today announced development of
industry's most accurate handwritten character recognition technology that
employs artificial intelligence (AI) to mimic the workings of the human brain.
Conventional handwritten character recognition attempts to identify a
character based on the number and angle of its strokes. Severely misshapen
characters, however, might not be recognized using this method, and increasing
recognition accuracy requires the character to be "learned" in a
time-consuming process. This new technology uses AI to recognize character
features, in the same way a human brain does, to learn more quickly and in
greater detail. This slashes character learning time to 1/17th previous levels
while achieving recognition accuracy of 94.8 percent.
This technology came in at first place in a recent contest of handwritten
Chinese character recognition, the results of which are to be officially
presented at the world's largest international conference on document
image processing, the International Conference on Document Analysis and
Recognition (ICDAR 2013), opening August 25 in Washington, DC.
This technology promises to greatly improve the efficiency of data entry when
digitizing handwritten text.
There are still numerous situations where handwritten text is used, including
signatures on contracts and addresses on envelopes. However, the need to
digitize this handwritten information creates a demand for more efficient
Every individual has their own idiosyncratic ways of writing letterforms. The
conventional approach to character recognition has been to look for the number
and angle of the strokes in an individual character. However, severely
misshapen characters might not be recognized using this method, and increasing
recognition accuracy requires a time-consuming process.
About the Technology
This new technology uses AI to learn like the human brain to recognize
character features more quickly and in greater detail. This slashes character
training time to 1/17th previous levels while achieving recognition accuracy of
94.8 percent. Key features of the technology are as follows.
1. Increased recognition accuracy
In general, character recognition is performed based on processed accumulated
data. As a result, increasing recognition accuracy requires a great deal of
processed data. Much like a person learning to write, this technology uses a
cumulative process in which a large volume of characters are input and their
features are recognized. This process uses a model of connected layers that
work similar to cells in the human brain (Figure 2). Firstly, the image of a
character is input, and the first processing layer recognizes simple features.
Then, the second processing layer recognizes more complex features. The
features that are most useful in identifying characters are automatically
extracted through the system of layers, and data for each corresponding feature
is accumulated for each character.
The recognition process uses the same system of layers for feature extraction
that the data accumulation process does, generating recognition results to
define a character based on if there was a reaction to the features (similar to
brain cells) based on the results of the learning process.
In this way, Fujitsu researchers, using a model that works like the
connections between human brain cells in the way they react on an individual
basis, raised recognition accuracy by increasing the number of connections in
the model (as with brain cells) by up to approximately seven-fold (roughly 2.8
million in seven levels) over the volume of connections typically used.
2. Faster processing of accumulated data
The greatly increased number of connections between "cells" in this
model brought with it longer data processing times. To construct the processed
data, the researchers used graphical processing units. These are processors
that are amenable to highly parallelized processing, which accelerated the
process from a typical length of four months to as little as one week, a
17-fold speed increase.
In a contest of handwritten Chinese character recognition, the results of
which are to be presented at the International Conference on Document Analysis
and Recognition (ICDAR 2013), the world's largest international conference
on document image processing, this technology demonstrated the best-ever
Chinese character-recognition accuracy of 94.8 percent, resulting in a
This technology can be applied to both Mandarin and Japanese handwriting, and
accurately recognizes even severely distorted characters, cutting down on
mis-reads when entering data and lowering the cost of data entry.
Fujitsu Laboratories will work on further improving the recognition accuracy
of this technology.
About Fujitsu Limited
Fujitsu is the leading Japanese information and communication technology (ICT)
company offering a full range of technology products, solutions and services.
Approximately 170,000 Fujitsu people support customers in more than 100
countries. We use our experience and the power of ICT to shape the future of
society with our customers. Fujitsu Limited (TSE: 6702) reported consolidated
revenues of 4.4 trillion yen (US$47 billion) for the fiscal year ended March
31, 2013 For more information, please see www.fujitsu.com.
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