Pattern Recognition - Online Article

Pattern recognition is a sub-topic of machine learning. It can be defined as "the act of taking in raw data and taking an action based on the category of the data".Most research in pattern recognition is about methods for supervised learning and unsupervised learning.

Pattern recognition aims to classify data patterns based on either a priori knowledge or on statistical information extracted from the patterns. The patterns to be classified are usually groups of measurements or observations, defining points in an appropriate multidimensional space. This is in contrast to pattern matching, where the pattern is rigidly specified.


A complete pattern recognition system consists of a sensor that gathers the observations to be classified or described; a feature extraction mechanism that computes numeric or symbolic information from the observations; and a classification or description scheme that does the actual job of classifying or describing observations, relying on the extracted features.

The classification or description scheme is usually based on the availability of a set of patterns that have already been classified or described. This set of patterns is termed the training set and the resulting learning strategy is characterized as supervised learning. Learning can also be unsupervised, in the sense that the system is not given an a priori labeling of patterns, instead it establishes the classes itself based on the statistical regularities of the patterns.

The classification or description scheme usually uses one of the following approaches: statistical (or decision theoretic), syntactic (or structural). Statistical pattern recognition is based on statistical characterisations of patterns, assuming that the patterns are generated by a probabilistic system. Syntactical (or structural) pattern recognition is based on the structural interrelationships of features. A wide range of algorithms can be applied for pattern recognition, from very simple Bayesian classifiers to much more powerful neural networks.

An intriguing problem in pattern recognition yet to be solved is the relationship between the problem to be solved (data to be classified) and the performance of various pattern recognition algorithms (classifiers).

Pattern recognition is more complex when templates are used to generate variants. For example, in English, sentences often follow the "N-VP" (noun - verb phrase) pattern, but some knowledge of the English language is required to detect the pattern. Pattern recognition is studied in many fields, including psychology, ethology, and computer science.

Holographic associative memory is another type of pattern matching scheme where a target small patterns can be searched from a large set of learned patterns based on cognitive meta-weight.


Within medical science pattern recognition creates the basis for computer-aided diagnosis (CAD) systems. CAD describes a procedure that supports the doctor's interpretations and findings.

Typical applications are automatic speech recognition, classification of text into several categories (e.g. spam/non-spam email messages), the automatic recognition of handwritten postal codes on postal envelopes, or the automatic recognition of images of human faces. The last two examples form the subtopic image analysis of pattern recognition that deals with digital images as input to pattern recognition systems

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