Open Access

Arabic Handwritten Word Recognition Using HMMs with Explicit State Duration

EURASIP Journal on Advances in Signal Processing20072008:247354

Received: 9 March 2007

Accepted: 28 October 2007

Published: 29 November 2007


We describe an offline unconstrained Arabic handwritten word recognition system based on segmentation-free approach and discrete hidden Markov models (HMMs) with explicit state duration. Character durations play a significant part in the recognition of cursive handwriting. The duration information is still mostly disregarded in HMM-based automatic cursive handwriting recognizers due to the fact that HMMs are deficient in modeling character durations properly. We will show experimentally that explicit state duration modeling in the HMM framework can significantly improve the discriminating capacity of the HMMs to deal with very difficult pattern recognition tasks such as unconstrained Arabic handwriting recognition. In order to carry out the letter and word model training and recognition more efficiently, we propose a new version of the Viterbi algorithm taking into account explicit state duration modeling. Three distributions (Gamma, Gauss, and Poisson) for the explicit state duration modeling have been used, and a comparison between them has been reported. To perform word recognition, the described system uses an original sliding window approach based on vertical projection histogram analysis of the word and extracts a new pertinent set of statistical and structural features from the word image. Several experiments have been performed using the IFN/ENIT benchmark database and the best recognition performances achieved by our system outperform those reported recently on the same database.

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Authors’ Affiliations

Laboratoire de Recherche en Informatique, Département d'Informatique, Université Badji Mokhtar, Annaba, Algeria
Laboratoire LITIS (FRE 2645), Université de Rouen, Madrillet, France


© A. Benouareth et al. 2008

This article is published under license to BioMed Central Ltd. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.