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Communications of the ACM

Application of game tree searching techniques to sequential pattern recognition

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A sequential pattern recognition (SPR) procedure does not test all the features of a pattern at once. Instead, it selects a feature to be tested. After receiving the result of that test, the procedure either classifies the unknown pattern or selects another feature to be tested, etc. Medical diagnosis is an example of SPR. In this paper the authors suggest that SPR be viewed as a one-person game played against nature (chance). Virtually all the powerful techniques developed for searching two-person, strictly competitive game trees can easily be incorporated either directly or by analogy into SPR procedures. In particular, one can incorporate the “miniaverage backing-up procedure” and the “gamma procedure,” which are the analogues of the “minimax backing-up procedure” and the “alpha-beta procedure,” respectively. Some computer simulated experiments in character recognition are presented. The results indicate that the approach is promising.

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