Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Is Handwriting Truly Individual? UB Computer Scientists Are Finding Out

Date:
May 31, 1999
Source:
University At Buffalo
Summary:
Ransom notes, like the one left behind in the JonBenet Ramsey murder case, and other handwritten documents that provide clues to criminal cases may soon be easier to analyze, thanks to research being conducted by University at Buffalo computer scientists.

Computer-assisted handwriting analysis tools being developed for forensic applications

Related Articles


BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Ransom notes, like the one left behind in the JonBenet Ramsey murder case, and other handwritten documents that provide clues to criminal cases may soon be easier to analyze, thanks to research being conducted by University at Buffalo computer scientists.

Researchers in UB's Center of Excellence for Document Analysis and Recognition (CEDAR) have been awarded a $428,000, 16-month grant from the National Institute of Justice to develop computer-assisted handwriting-analysis tools for forensic applications.

The new tools will for the first time make available to law-enforcement investigators quantitative methods for analyzing handwriting in an effort to identify writers of specific documents -- who also may be suspects in criminal cases.

"Our first focus in this project will be to establish on a scientific basis whether or not handwriting is truly individual," said Sargur Srihari, Ph.D., SUNY Distinguished Professor in the UB Department of Computer Science and Engineering and director of CEDAR. "We will be asking 'is the handwriting of different individuals truly distinct?'"

CEDAR is the largest research center in the world devoted to developing new technologies that can recognize and read handwriting. In the United States, it is the only center in a university where researchers in artificial intelligence are applying pattern-recognition techniques to the problem of reading handwriting.

Over the past more than 10 years, CEDAR developed and refined software now used by the U.S. Postal Service to read and interpret up to 80 percent of all handwritten addresses on envelopes. CEDAR researchers today continue to refine and improve the software for the USPS, as well as for Australia Post, which also has adopted the CEDAR system.

That expertise attracted the attention of the National Institute of Justice (NIJ), which has been directed to establish a scientific basis for handwriting testimony in court cases.

The NIJ project requires researchers to look at handwriting from a different perspective than that required by the postal service project.

"Previously we never were interested in who the author was," said Srihari. "The main focus of our Handwritten Address Interpretation system was always to say, 'What is common or average about this handwritten address,' not 'What is special.' But with this project, we will be asking, 'What is special about this?'"

Efforts to analyze handwriting in criminal or civil cases have involved obtaining samples of writing from potential suspects or witnesses and then comparing them with the writing in the document in question.

In the JonBenet Ramsey case, for example, potential suspects, including friends of the Ramseys, were made to write some of the same words that appeared in the ransom note so that investigators could compare them with the original document.

Many less-sensational cases involve forged wills and other handwritten documents.

A 1993 Supreme Court decision stated that in order for expert testimony to be admitted in court cases at any level, a scientific basis for that expertise must be proven through research and the peer-review process.

But because relatively few, if any, objective criteria exist for analyzing handwriting, it has yet to be regarded with the same confidence level as other kinds of evidence.

For instance, human analysts now need to make elaborate measurements about such details of a person's writing as how often a certain slant or loop occurs. The software under development at UB will be able to estimate automatically the slant angle of someone's script, as well as other features of an individual's writing. Those features and quantitative data about them -- such as how often they occur and in what context -- can then be compared with the writing in the document under investigation.

"What we hope to do is to create an automated system that could pick out handwriting styles and attach to them some numbers and confidence levels for a specific document, to evaluate how good a match there is between a sample and a given document," said Srihari.

Srihari and his colleagues at CEDAR are analyzing handwritten addresses gathered from their postal research; they also will be collecting individual handwriting samples from a cross-section of the general population.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University At Buffalo. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University At Buffalo. "Is Handwriting Truly Individual? UB Computer Scientists Are Finding Out." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 31 May 1999. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1999/05/990531072757.htm>.
University At Buffalo. (1999, May 31). Is Handwriting Truly Individual? UB Computer Scientists Are Finding Out. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 19, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1999/05/990531072757.htm
University At Buffalo. "Is Handwriting Truly Individual? UB Computer Scientists Are Finding Out." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1999/05/990531072757.htm (accessed December 19, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Computers & Math News

Friday, December 19, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Navy Unveils Robot Fish

Navy Unveils Robot Fish

Reuters - Light News Video Online (Dec. 18, 2014) The U.S. Navy unveils an underwater device that mimics the movement of a fish. Tara Cleary reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
How 2014 Shaped The Future Of The Internet

How 2014 Shaped The Future Of The Internet

Newsy (Dec. 18, 2014) It has been a long, busy year for Net Neutrality. The stage is set for an expected landmark FCC decision sometime in 2015. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
White House: Sony Hack a 'serious National Security Matter'

White House: Sony Hack a 'serious National Security Matter'

AFP (Dec. 18, 2014) White House spokesperson Josh Earnest says cyber attacks that ultimately prompted Sony Pictures to scrap the release of a madcap comedy about North Korea are a "serious national security matter." Duration: 00:35 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Google Maps Lets You Tour Street View in Virtual Reality

Google Maps Lets You Tour Street View in Virtual Reality

Buzz60 (Dec. 18, 2014) Google Maps now lets Android users see cities on Street View in virtual reality with the special Cardboard feature. Sean Dowling (@Seandowlingtv) has the details. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Space & Time

Matter & Energy

Computers & Math

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins