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Subject: Re: Boumas - vision
From: "Christopher R. Maden" <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:Discussion of Type and Typographic Design <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Thu, 22 Feb 2001 22:24:55 -0800
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At 15:25 21-02-2001, Ben Haskell wrote:
>Boumas don't exist because it is easier for the brain to recognize 26
>glyphs than to memorize thousands of boumas, and multiply this
>"thousands" by dozens of fonts. A bouma recognition mechanism implies
>HUGE "look-up tables" stored in the brain.

This isn't quite accurate.  The human brain doesn't process things by
specific look-ups, but by more generic "shapes".  I did some
computer-vision recognition work in college, and it turns out that the
Gaussian "shock" function of an outline[*] tends to uniquely identify an
object regardless of light conditions and orientation.  This is why you can
recognize your friend's face even if he's turned at a slightly different
angle to you than he was when you first met him.

>Bouma's work was in the 1950s, as I recall from Hrant's previous posts.
>This was in the era of primitive serial computers and  "look up table"
>algorithims. If Bouma's work was conducted today, would he not be
>influenced instead by massively parallel computers and "neural network
>object recognition" algorithims?

The word-shape hypothesis holds up quite well in a massively parallel
environment.

-crism

[*] Roughly, this is the skeleton that you get if you take an outline and
successively make an internal outline a fixed distance from the outline
towards the middle.
--
"Years of learning the hard way have convinced us it is better for the
staff to amuse the octopus than to allow the octopus to amuse itself."  -
Helen Tozer, California Academy of Sciences
Freelance XML Consultant - <URL:http://crism.maden.org/>

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