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Offline Handwriting Recognition with Multidimensional Recurrent Neural Networks
Alex Graves · Jürgen Schmidhuber

Wed Dec 10 11:50 AM -- 11:51 AM (PST) @ None

Offline handwriting recognition---the transcription of images of handwritten text---is an interesting task, in that it combines computer vision with sequence learning. In most systems the two elements are handled separately, with sophisticated preprocessing techniques used to extract the image features and sequential models such as HMMs used to provide the transcriptions. By combining two recent innovations in neural networks---multidimensional recurrent neural networks and connectionist temporal classification---this paper introduces a globally trained offline handwriting recogniser that takes raw pixel data as input. Unlike competing systems, it does not require any alphabet specific preprocessing, and can therefore be used unchanged for any language. Evidence of its generality and power is provided by data from a recent international Arabic recognition competition, where it outperformed all entries (91.4% accuracy compared to 87.2% for the competition winner) despite the fact that neither author understands a word of Arabic.

Author Information

Alex Graves (Google DeepMind)

Main contributions to neural networks include the Connectionist Temporal Classification training algorithm (widely used for speech, handwriting and gesture recognition, e.g. by Google voice search), a type of differentiable attention for RNNs (originally for handwriting generation, now a standard tool in computer vision, machine translation and elsewhere), stochastic gradient variational inference, and Neural Turing Machines. He works at Google Deep Mind.

Jürgen Schmidhuber (Swiss AI Lab, IDSIA (USI & SUPSI) - NNAISENSE)

Since age 15, his main goal has been to build an Artificial Intelligence smarter than himself, then retire. The Deep Learning Artificial Neural Networks developed since 1991 by his research groups have revolutionised handwriting recognition, speech recognition, machine translation, image captioning, and are now available to billions of users through Google, Microsoft, IBM, Baidu, and many other companies (DeepMind also was heavily influenced by his lab). His team's Deep Learners were the first to win object detection and image segmentation contests, and achieved the world's first superhuman visual classification results, winning nine international competitions in machine learning & pattern recognition. His formal theory of fun & creativity & curiosity explains art, science, music, and humor. He has published 333 papers, earned 7 best paper/best video awards, the 2013 Helmholtz Award of the International Neural Networks Society, and the 2016 IEEE Neural Networks Pioneer Award. He is also president of NNAISENSE, which aims at building the first practical general purpose AI.

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