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After ten intensive and productive editions of the International Workshop on Frontiers in Handwriting Recognition (FHR), the workshop has been promoted to an International Conference on FHR. It took place in Montréal, the largest city in the Canadian province of Québec. It was a conference with a large community response, numerous fruitful discussions, and a lot of “surprises”.

ICFHR provides an international forum for the exchange of knowledge in the field of handwriting recognition. It is a perfect opportunity to exchange ideas on ways of advancing the state of the art in on-line and off-line recognition of handwriting, pen-based interface systems for the processing of multilingual handwritten documents and forms, and their applications.

For ICFHR 2008, a total of 161 submissions from 26 different countries were received. This large number indicates that the field of HWR is in a prosperous state. After the review process, 39 papers were selected for oral and 79 for poster presentation.

The presentations were organized in nine oral and three poster sessions. The posters were orally introduced by the authors in a poster teaser session, where each author was given one minute time to highlight the main contributions of his or her poster. As a novel, key feature, a special session with 2-minute presentations to encourage the "Blooming of One Hundred Flowers" was included in the technical program. During this session the participants were able to present research projects in their early stage or interesting outcomes or announcements which would not suit as a conference article. It was a pleasure to see that especially young PhD-students took the chance to bring up their research ideas at an early stage and discuss them with the community.

As introduced two years ago, there were two invited talks. These were selected by Réjean Plamondon, who was responsible for invited speeches and special sessions. The first invited speaker, Hans-Leo Teulings, spoke about the “Quantification of Medication Side Effects Based on Dynamic Handwriting Features”, where he showed that handwriting movement analysis could help to guide psychiatrists when prescribing medication to their patients. Second, Graziella Pettinati spoke about challenges facing the “Questioned Document Examiners” during their work. These two talks went beyond the usual scope of the topics of ICFHR and provided some information about related topics in the fields of motor control and handwriting analysis. It was a good selection of talks, leading to a lot of fruitful discussions with the speakers and other domain experts.

As ICFHR 2008 is the first edition as a conference, a panel discussion was added. Chaired by M. Cheriet, the panelists—M. El Yacoubi, H. Fujisawa, D. Lopresti, and G. Lorette— spoke about the achievements of more than 20 years of handwriting recognition and its future. After the presentation, all attendees had time to bring up their questions and concerns during an open discussion. It is planned to write a detailed report about the outcome of this discussion in a separate article.

Besides the huge variety of technical program points, there was a good selection of social events at beautiful sites in Montréal. First, there was the Welcome Reception held on top (11th floor) of the Concordia building. Despite the rainy weather, we enjoyed the view over Montréal and the impressive lightning strokes. It was a wonderful scenic experience.

The conference banquet was sited at “Hélène De Champlain” in the middle of Île Ste-Hélène. The wonderful evening started with a nice sight-seeing tour to Mont Royal and the old town. The delicious menu was selected to fit everyone’s taste, and the dinner was accompanied by a live band playing Jazz, one of Montréal’s trademarks. The speeches of Prof. Suen and Prof. Cheriet were full of pleasant surprises. And we learned that it is always important to read the fine print … Altogether, it was a very enjoyable and entertaining evening.

During the closing session, the best poster presentation award was handed to Abdullah Almaksour for his outstanding presentation on “Fast Online Incremental Learning with few Examples for Online Handwritten Character Recognition”. Furthermore, the best papers of the ICFHR 2008 were selected for publication consideration in a Special Issue on Handwriting Recognition of the Pattern Recognition journal.

In addition to IAPR, there were a number of sponsors of this workshop: the corporate sponsors Hitachi, Parascript, IMDS Software, A2iA, aiLeader Pattern Recognition, and Fujitsu; and the academic sponsors CENPARMI, Synchromedia, Concordia University, and École de Technologie Supérieure.

Due to the large number of high-quality contributions, the continuation of previously defined standards, and the newly introduced features, the ICFHR 2008 was a successful first edition as a conference. We are all looking forward to seeing old friends and making new ones at the next edition of the conference, the 12th ICFHR, which will take place on September 27-30, 2010, in Calcutta, India. The location of the 13th ICFHR has also been decided by the attendees. It will take place in Bari, Italy, in September 2012.

Conference Report:  ICFHR 2008

Report prepared by Marcus Liwicki (Germany)

Text Box: 11th International Conference on 
Frontiers in Handwriting Recognition

19—21 August 2008
Montréal, Canada
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Ching Y. Suen (Canada)

Mohamed Cheriet (Canada)


ICFHR 2010

27-30 September 2010

Calcutta, India

The FHR series of workshops and conferences is sponsored by


Reading Systems

CD (US$60) and
Paper (US$180)
are still available from
An electronic version of the
proceedings can be found in a
digital library accessible from the
ICFHR 2008 website: