In this chapter we will briefly introduce the basic ideas and the models used in pattern recognition. We exclude biological aspects and treat only the mathematical and technical aspects of perception. This is done in a very informal way, since it is not within the scope of this book to present a rigorous discussion of pattern recognition theory. We put our main emphasis on explaining image and speech processing concepts. The research problems treated are motivated by practical examples. After a brief introduction to the applications of pattern recognition, a sketched mathematical description of patterns, problem domain, and environment is given. Due to the fact that modern computer systems need digital data, we will also discuss the central problem on how continuous, observable signals can be transformed into digital signals. A more technical description can be found in the literature (e.g., in [Pra91]).
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