[tug-summer-of-code] A couple of project proposals

J.Fine J.Fine at open.ac.uk
Fri Feb 13 13:10:25 CET 2009

Arthur wrote:

> >    2) LaTeX handwriting-based symbol search
> >       There are occasional posts to comp.text.tex asking by
> >       description for a particular LaTeX symbol ("a capital U with a
> >       dot...no, not with the dot above the U but centered within
> >       it...no, not such a small dot, a bigger dot...").  It'd be a
> >       great help to produce a Web site in which a user can draw a
> >       symbol with the mouse and have the site return a list of LaTeX
> >       symbols (glyph + package + control sequence) that best match
> >       user's drawing.
>   This sounds like a great idea, and certainly a lot of fun.  But
> we do need a potential mentor.  Would you agree to play that role?
> You're certainly well indicated for it :-)

Scott, this is a very hard project, and may require skills you don't
have, such as high-performance and Canvas JavaScript.  (I don't have
these skills, and I consider myself a JavaScript expert.)

I will make again the point I made earlier, which is that unless we can
obtain suitable handwriting recognition code, the project is not
practical (even though it may be great fun to try).

I've done a Google search.  The top result is:

To quote from this review:  CellWriter provides a small, grid-like
window into which you write with normal pen strokes. Thus it works best
with a pen interface, such as a Wacom tablet, but that isn't strictly
CellWriter is a young project, but it shows a lot of promise both in its
character recognition abilities and, more importantly, in its ease of

So here are three problems:

1.  How many of our users will have a graphics tablet?  (A mouse is not
really a suitable input device.)

2.  To record, store and transmit the pointer (stylus or mouse) motions
via a web page will require JavaScript expertise. 

3.  The project will have to adapt something like CellWriter to work on
a client-server basis, with the client a web browser.

So here's a simply feasibility test.  Install CellWriter (or something
else) on a PC, and see if it will recognise, say recognise a U with a
dot on.

On the other hand, you might want to use:

To do this, we'd need a mentor with extensive JavaScript skills.


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