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Establishing a cohesive bridge between the realms of heritage and modernization

Machine Learning HDIA

Developing OCR (Optical Character Recognition) technologies for Computerised reading of historical Arabic manuscripts​​ thorugh Historical Document Image Analysis. 

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... .. . About

At the TRDC, we believe that embracing our scientific heritage is key to driving innovation and advancing scientific knowledge in the modern era. By reconnecting with the wisdom and discoveries of our predecessors, we can unlock new possibilities, foster interdisciplinary collaborations, and accelerate progress in scientific research. In our startup, we delve into the concept of harnessing our scientific heritage to forge a powerful link with modernity, enabling us to propel science forward and shape a brighter future.

The concept

Approximately 40 million manuscripts inscribed in Arabic scripts, encompassing languages like Arabic, Persian, Turkish, and Urdu, exist worldwide. Regrettably, only a fraction of these invaluable manuscripts have been captured through digital photography, and an even smaller fraction has been transformed into digital characters that allow for efficient searching and comparisons. Consequently, a substantial portion of this vast cultural heritage remains beyond public reach. The successful advancement of Optical Character Recognition (OCR) technology or the implementation of keyword searches holds immense potential to unlock this treasure trove, enabling comprehensive exploration and facilitating invaluable cultural discoveries of great significance.

The Technology

Computerized reading of classical texts in Arabic script is a complex but highly rewarding task undertaken by Al-Zahrawi group of researchers in the TRDC led by Dr. Raid Saabni. Besides issues such as aging, torn scripts, yellowing, dirt and issues connected to the individual handwriting of long dead scribes, Arabic manuscripts is an inherently challenging script for Optical Character Recognition (OCR). The basic structure of a cursive script with character changes in suffixes and prefixes is a challenge that has so far met with far less success than OCR in non-cursive scripts. In classical Arabic scripts the challenge is compounded by the calligraphy of distinctly different fonts. So far the tools developed by Al-Zahrawi group have far surpassed the 50% success rate of currently available Arabic OCR technologies.

... .. . Embracing the Wisdom of the Past

Our rich scientific heritage, built upon the intellectual achievements of visionaries from centuries past, serves as a treasure trove of knowledge. The profound insights and groundbreaking discoveries made by our predecessors lay the foundation upon which we stand today. By delving into ancient texts, manuscripts, and scientific treatises, we gain access to the wealth of wisdom amassed over generations. Exploring these timeless works not only provides a deep understanding of the past, but also unveils hidden gems that can ignite new avenues of exploration.

Connecting the Dots: Heritage and Modernity:

The bridge between scientific heritage and modernity lies in recognizing the enduring relevance of past discoveries and integrating them with cutting-edge technologies and methodologies. By blending traditional knowledge with modern advancements, we can cultivate a unique synthesis that fuels innovation and catalyzes scientific progress. This integration not only pays homage to our scientific ancestors but also propels us forward, fostering interdisciplinary collaborations and enabling breakthroughs in diverse fields.

Unleashing Innovation: Practical Applications

Reconnecting with our scientific heritage empowers us to identify practical applications that can transform various industries and benefit society as a whole. Drawing inspiration from ancient principles, methodologies, and inventions, we can develop revolutionary technologies, sustainable solutions, and novel approaches to address pressing challenges. From utilizing traditional medicinal knowledge to developing eco-friendly materials, the fusion of heritage and modernity paves the way for game-changing innovations that improve lives and shape a sustainable future.

The depth of knowledge acquired over several years of intensive research on the immensely complex classical manuscripts has created the possibility of developing real world applications with a potentially significant economic impact. Just one of these now under development is a check-reading OCR system for banks. Contrary to what many people might assume the volume of checks processed by the world’s banks is actually increasing every year giving Al-Zahrawi group the opportunity to develop means to automate the reading of checks as part of the verification process. Other applications are in smartphone applications that can read and decipher handwritten texts.

Collaborative Endeavors: Building Bridges

To fully realize the potential of connecting scientific heritage with modernity, collaboration is paramount. By fostering partnerships with academic institutions, research organizations, and industry leaders, we can create a vibrant ecosystem that nurtures interdisciplinary research and knowledge exchange. Collaborative initiatives facilitate the exploration of uncharted territories, leveraging our collective expertise to tackle complex scientific problems and drive transformative change.

Embracing our scientific heritage and linking it with modernity is not just an exercise in nostalgia; it is a visionary approach to unlocking untapped potential and accelerating scientific advancements. At TRDC, we are committed to harnessing the wisdom of the past, building bridges with the present, and driving scientific innovation to shape a better tomorrow. Together, let us embark on this exciting journey of rediscovery and propel science towards new frontiers, guided by the timeless wisdom of our scientific heritage.