Visual Design and Engineering Laboratory

Carnegie Mellon University

Neural Network-based Symbol Recognition Using a Few Labeled Samples


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The recognition of pen-based visual patterns such as sketched symbols is amenable to supervised machine learning models such as neural networks. However, a sizable, labeled training corpus is often required to learn the high variations of freehand sketches. To circumvent the costs associated with creating a large training corpus, improve the recognition accuracy with only a limited amount of training samples and accelerate the development of sketch recognition system for novel sketch domains, we present a neural network training protocol that consists of three steps. First, a large pool of unlabeled, synthetic samples are generated from a small set of existing, labeled training samples. Then, a Deep Belief Network (DBN) is pre-trained with those synthetic, unlabeled samples. Finally, the pre-trained DBN is fine-tuned using the limited amount of labeled samples for classification. The training protocol is evaluated against supervised baseline approaches such as the nearest neighbor classifier and the neural network classifier. The benchmark data sets used are partitioned such that there are only a few labeled samples for training, yet a large number of labeled test cases featuring rich variations. Results suggest that our training protocol leads to a significant error reduction compared to the baseline approaches.


Luoting Fu, Levent Burak Kara. (2011). Neural Network-based Symbol Recognition Using a Few Labeled Samples. Computers & Graphics, Elsevier, Volume 35, Issue 5, Pages 955-966.

 title = "Neural network-based symbol recognition using a few labeled samples",
 journal = "Computers & Graphics",
 volume = "35",
 number = "5",
 pages = "955 - 966",
 year = "2011",
 note = "",
 issn = "0097-8493",
 doi = "10.1016/j.cag.2011.07.001",
 url = "",
 author = "Luoting Fu and Levent Burak Kara",
 keywords = "Sketch recognition",
 keywords = "Symbol recognition",
 keywords = "Deep Belief Network",
 keywords = "Unsupervised training",
 keywords = "Neural nets",
 keywords = "Synthetic training samples",