Prof. Lambert Schomaker, the father of the Target-supported Monk system won the Dr. Ching Yee Suen Special Award while his student Jean-Paul van Oosten received the IAPR Best Paper award at this year's international conference on handwriting recognition.
Prof. Lambert Schomaker leads a small dedicated research group at the ALICE Research Institute in the Department of Artificial Intelligence that aims at developing novel, fast and self-learning algorithms for handwritten text recognition. Last year their work was recognized by IBM - a commercial giant in the field of ICT technology whose University Research and Collaboration initiatives include a number of highly competitive IBM Faculty Awards granted annually to selected faculty from around the world. One of these awards is now sitting quietly among a pile of papers on Prof. Schomaker's desk. But, not for long. After he and his student Jean-Paul van Oosten attended the 13th International Conference on Frontiers in Handwriting Recognition (ICFHR 2012) held in Bari, Italy this September, Prof. Schomaker needs to find space for two new awards - a testimony of unabating enthusiasm and commitment to contribute to the progress in the field of digitization, analysis and information extraction from handwritten documents.
The ICFHR conference is the natural extension and continuation of the IWFHR workshops (International Workshop on Frontiers in Handwriting Recognition), whose founder and main organizer Dr. Ching Yee Suen is currently the director of the Center for Pattern Recognition and Machine Intelligence at Concordia University in Canada. Dr. Suen is a prominent and highly respected researcher in the community with numerous contributions to the field of pattern analysis and recognition. He has created a number of awards to honor outstanding research in the field and this year his Special Award was presented to Prof. Schomaker in recognition of his achievements in the area of handwritten text recognition. Meanwhile, his student Jean-Paul van Oosten received the best paper award of the International Association for Pattern Recognition (IAPR), a main sponsor and organizer of the conference, for a paper titled " Separability versus Prototypicality in handwritten word retrieval". Co-authored by prof. Schomaker, the paper discusses methods and techniques for precision improvement in massive scale, continuously trainable retrieval engines. The Monk system, which is hosted on the Target computing and storage infrastructure offers exciting opportunities for such techniques to be tested and refined. Results are already promising - a number of books from the Dutch National Archive have been ingested into the Monk system and the project is part of a larger national initiative called NWO/CATCH (Continuous Access to Cultural Heritage), funded by the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research. The NWO/CATCH program focuses on developing the necessary technology that will allow easy access to the Dutch archive collections on digital platforms for the general public and for humanities researchers.
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