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Concordian receives top honour in pattern recognition

Computer science and software engineering professsor Ching Yee Suen pioneered the field of research that became the backbone of artificial intelligence
February 15, 2021
Older, smiling gentleman with a tie and knitted cardigan.
Ching Yee Suen: “This is an enormous recognition of my work and contributions.”

The International Association for Pattern Recognition (IAPR) has awarded its 2020 King-Sun Fu Prize to Concordia’s Ching Yee Suen. Suen earned the honour for his pioneering research and exceptional contributions to handwriting recognition and document understanding in theory, practice and education.

Suen is a professor in the Department of Computer Science and Software Engineering and director of the Centre for Pattern Recognition and Machine Intelligence (CENPARMI) at the university’s Gina Cody School of Engineering and Computer Science.

Likened to the Turing Award in computer science, IAPR’s King-Sun Fu Prize recognizes excellence in pattern recognition. The field of research is the backbone of artificial intelligence (AI).

Suen accepted IAPR’s award and delivered its conference keynote to more than 2,500 international colleagues on January 12.

“This is an enormous recognition of my work and contributions. I look forward to continuing my research and to guide my students in pursuing research opportunities and careers in pattern recognition,” Suen says. “Teaching at Concordia is my privilege.”

A leading expert in an ever-growing field

Suen’s research started in 1968. As an eager PhD student at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, he worked on the Lexiphone machine — a computer he programmed to read documents for the visually impaired.

He joined Concordia’s faculty in 1972, and in 1978 he presented his founding paper on handwriting recognition at the International Joint Conference on Pattern Recognition (now called the International Conference on Pattern Recognition), IAPR’s flagship conference. His audience then consisted of 543 international experts.

To nurture future research, Suen soon went on to establish three international conferences for researchers to explore topics around document analysis and recognition, handwriting recognition and AI.

Industry partners like SAP, Bell Canada, Microsoft, La Poste (France) and Fujitsu (Japan) have funded Suen’s research internationally. He is a fellow of the IAPR, the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) and the Academy of Science of the Royal Society of Canada.

Suen’s techniques apply to all languages worldwide. Today, more than 50 million people communicate via handwriting on their cellphones. Millions of handwritten cheques, mail, business forms and documents are read and processed by handwriting recognition technology each day. Google integrated handwriting recognition on desktop in 2015 and adapted it for its Gboard in 2019.

His current research continues to focus on handwriting recognition and its relationship to personality markers and facial beauty. He is also exploring image-based license plate recognition and the detection of falsified currency.

Learn more about Concordia’s
Department of Computer Science and Software Engineering.


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