Pen-Based Interfaces for Mathematics

Ontario Research Centre for Computer Algebra

Ontario Research Centre for Computer Algebra

Isn't this just document analysis?

For those familiar with document analysis, we note that pen-based mathematical handwriting presents some simplifications and some new challenges.

The main simplification, compared to earlier off-line document analysis, is that pen-based applications use digital ink that carries information giving separation of strokes and timing. This feature is common to all digital ink applications, not just math.

The fun comes with the challenges specific to math:

  1. Mathematical notiation is two-dimensional with complex spatial relations among subexpressions. It is more like a combination of drawing and writing.
  2. Mathematical notation typically uses a large vocabulary of symbols, with multiple alphabets and special characters, making the usual methods for character recognition break down.
  3. There is not a fixed vocabulary of words that may be used for disambiguation. Dictionary-based methods are essential in achieving high accuracy in natural language text. For mathematics we have to develop new ideas.

-- SMW

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