optical character recognition

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optical character recognition

(OCR), method for the machine-reading of typeset, typed, and, in some cases, hand-printed letters, numbers, and symbols using optical sensingoptical sensing,
in general, any method by which information that occurs as variations in the intensity, or some other property, of light is translated into an electric signal. This is usually accomplished by the use of various photoelectric devices.
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 and a computer. The light reflected by a printed text, for example, is recorded as patterns of light and dark areas by an array of photoelectric cellsphotoelectric cell
or photocell,
device whose electrical characteristics (e.g., current, voltage, or resistance) vary when light is incident upon it. The most common type consists of two electrodes separated by a light-sensitive semiconductor material.
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 in a optical scanner. A computer program analyzes the patterns and identifies the characters they represent, with some tolerance for less than perfect and uniform text. OCR is also used to produce text files from computer files that contain images of alphanumeric characters, such as those produced by fax transmissions. See also computer graphicscomputer graphics,
the transfer of pictorial data into and out of a computer. Using analog-to-digital conversion techniques, a variety of devices—such as curve tracers, digitizers, and light pens—connected to graphic computer terminals, computer-aided design
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; pen-based computerpen-based computer,
computer that uses software to enable it to accept handwriting or drawing as a form of input. A stylus, which may contain special electronic circuitry, may be used to write on the computer display or on a separate tablet.
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; personal digital assistantpersonal digital assistant
(PDA), lightweight, hand-held computer designed for use as a personal organizer with communications capabilities; also called a handheld. A typical PDA has no keyboard, relying instead on special hardware and pen-based computer software to enable the
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.
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optical character recognition

[′äp·tə·kəl ′kar·ik·tər ‚rek·ig‚nish·ən]
(computer science)
That branch of character recognition concerned with the automatic identification of handwritten or printed characters by any of various photoelectric methods. Abbreviated OCR. Also known as electrooptical character recognition.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms, 6E, Copyright © 2003 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.

Optical Character Recognition

(text)
(OCR, sometimes /oh'k*/) Recognition of printed or written characters by computer. Each page of text is converted to a digital using a scanner and OCR is then applied to this image to produce a text file. This involves complex image processing algorithms and rarely achieves 100% accuracy so manual proof reading is recommended.
This article is provided by FOLDOC - Free Online Dictionary of Computing (foldoc.org)

OCR

(Optical Character Recognition) The machine recognition of printed characters. OCR systems can recognize many different fonts, including those designed specifically for optical recognition as well as typewriter and computer-printed characters. Advanced OCR systems can recognize hand printing.

From Bitmaps to ASCII
When a text document is scanned into the computer, a picture is taken of each page. Just like a digital photo, the page becomes a bitmapped image of pixels. OCR software then analyzes the light and dark pixels in order to recognize each letter and digit, which is converted to an ASCII character. See bitmap, ASCII file and pixel.

Hand printing is much more difficult to analyze than machine printing. Old, worn and smudged documents are also problematic. OCR is sometimes as much an art as it is a science.


OCR A Font
This is an example of the OCR A font. OCR A was designed specifically for optical recognition in the late 1960s when the average computer's processing power was dramatically less than it is today.







OCR Processing
When text documents are scanned, they are "photographed" and stored as pictures in the computer. OCR software converts the pictures into actual text characters, which take up considerably less room on disk.







OCR Machines
The "football field-long" machine (top) from Recognition Equipment, Inc. was used in the 1970s to process checks and credit card slips. The machine at the bottom is a contemporary unit. Both machines can handle OCR and MICR processing. (Images courtesy of BancTec, Inc.)


OCR Machines
The "football field-long" machine (top) from Recognition Equipment, Inc. was used in the 1970s to process checks and credit card slips. The machine at the bottom is a contemporary unit. Both machines can handle OCR and MICR processing. (Images courtesy of BancTec, Inc.)
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