Computer-assisted handwriting analysis tools being developed for forensic applications
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.