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WKS review: angles

May 15, 2013
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Every day I receive WKS files ("written kanji structure") from people who are not happy with the recognition of what they draw in JiPad. Sometimes these signals are very helpful, pointing out serious shortcomings of the algorithm, when a particular combination of strokes definetely should have been recognized. Other reports are more disputable. The most common case of recognition fault is a wrong angle of the picture. For example, look at these screenshots from mobile phones:

It is incredible how many pictures are rotated counter-clockwise. I would estimate their share as 20-25%. There seems to be some substantial property of human hand movement that makes your finger go not straight down, but slightly rightward, and not straight right but slightly upward. This is especially strange when you think about European cursive handwriting where letters are rotated in the opposite direction, clock-wise! Obviously, the movement of a pen and that of a finger are fundamentally different.

The kanji above were written accurately enough to be recognized, but their rotation failed them. JiPad algorithm is sensitive to tilts. Even having provided wide tolerance margins for every single stroke of any type, it fails when all the strokes are drawn at wrong angles.

I use every opportunity to improve the quality of recognition. In JiShop 7.2, all the four pictures above would be recognized perfectly well. However, some cases are intractable, especially when critical angles are aggravated by other inaccuracies. With these three reports below I couldn't do anything:

I agree that good software must be as tolerant as possible to carelessness. If the rotation problem is so common, I should do my best to provide that kanji can be drawn at any angle, even upside down. In other words, I should make JiPad self-adjustible. But this can't be done quickly. In the meantime, it is better to remember that a vertical stroke should be drawn vertically, and a horizontal one - horizontally.

And it's not such an outrageous demand! Any teacher of Japanese calligraphy would reprove you for drawing your strokes askew. Doesn't it make sense to amend this bad habit before it becomes second nature? Yes, even on electronic devices!

Vadim Smolensky