OCR (Optical Character Recognition,光学字符识别)是指电子设备(例如扫描仪或数码相机)检查纸上打印的字符,通过检测暗、亮的模式确定其形状,然后用字符识别方法将形状翻译成计算机文字的过程;即,针对印刷体字符,采用光学的方式将纸质文档中的文字转换成为黑白点阵的图像文件,并通过识别软件将图像中的文字转换成文本格式,供文字处理软件进一步编辑加工的技术。

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The originality of this publication is to look at the subject of IDP (Intelligent Document Processing) from the perspective of an end-user and industrialist and not that of a Computer Science researcher. This domain is one part of the challenge of information digitalisation that constitutes the Industrial Revolution of the twenty first century (Industry 4.0) and this paper looks specifically at the difficult areas of classifying, extracting information and subsequent integration into business processes with respect to forms and invoices. Since the focus is on practical implementation a brief review is carried out of the market in commercial tools for OCR, document classification and data extraction in so far as this is publicly available together with pricing (if known). Brief definitions of the main terms encountered in Computer Science publications and commercial prospectuses are provided in order to de-mystify the language for the layman. A small number of practical tests are carried out on a few real documents in order to illustrate the capabilities of tools that are commonly available at a reasonable price. The unsolved (so far) issue of tables contained in invoices is raised. The case of a typical large industrial company is evoked where the requirement is to extract 100 per cent of the information with 100 per cent reliability in order to integrate into the back-end Enterprise Resource Planning system. Finally a brief description is given of the state-of-the-art research by the huge corporations who are pushing the boundaries of deep learning techniques further and further with massive computing and financial power - progress that will undoubtedly trickle down into the real world at some later date. The paper finishes by asking the question whether the objectives and timing of the commercial world and the progress of Computer Science are fully aligned.

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