The IAPR Workshop on Document Analysis Systems is a series of conferences whose goal is to bring together people who have designed systems or systems components to solve real-world problems in document analysis. This series started in 1994 and, with a biennial frequency, has served as a forum for the various groups working in this area to come together and help each other keep up with this active area of research. The seventh in this series of conferences was held last February in Nelson, “the sunniest place in New Zealand” under the organization of Horst Bunke (University of Bern, Switzerland) and Larry Spitz (DocRec. Ltd, New Zealand).
The DAS workshops have some characteristics that distinguish this series from other conferences in this field. DAS 2006 was not an exception, featuring a single track organization with oral presentation of each paper (including posters with a brief overview), demonstrations of working systems, and very active working groups. The 70 attendees actively participated in each event in the dense program, even if tempted by the nice weather around the conference site that was so different from the cold winter most of us had left a few days before. To enjoy this weather, the banquet took place in front of the Nelson’s bay with an inspiring view. The banquet also featured an interesting performance by a group of traditional Maori dancers.
The technical program of the workshop included 33 oral presentations and 22 posters selected from 78 submissions. The presentations were coupled with group discussions on selected topics and two invited talks. The 55 accepted papers were presented in a single track with some additional time allocated to the presentation of posters and to the introduction of system demonstrations made during the breaks.
The contributed sessions included papers addressing traditional Document Analysis topics such as handwriting analysis, image processing, and layout analysis together with new trends like digital libraries and historical document processing. There was plenty of time for questions and discussion during the oral and poster sessions. I invite people interested in more details to browse the workshop program from the DAS2006 website (www.iam.unibe.ch/das06) and consult the proceedings (available at Springer Verlag as Volume 3872 in the LNCS series).
Besides the regular paper presentations, two invited lectures were presented. Ian Witten (Waikato University, NZ) discussed some social implications of Digital Libraries and some interesting links between Digital Libraries and the DAS research with a talk entitled “Digital libraries, developing countries, and document analysis systems”. James Fruchterman (CEO of Benetech), a pioneer in modern commercial optical character recognition, gave an inspiring talk titled “Smart bombs and reading machines for the blind”.
The discussion groups are considered by many participants as one of the most interesting and valuable times in DAS. Apart from giving a chance to each participant to exchange views and ideas, the topics selected for discussion each time reflect the current developments in the area. Well-stimulated by Henry Baird, the workshop attendees selected five topics that were deemed to be more relevant. The topics, together with the names of the moderator and of the scribe are listed below:
· Digital Libraries and Information Retrieval (Moderator: S. Marinai, Scribe: C.J. Jawahar)
· Ubiquitous DAS: camera/video-based (Moderator R. Kasturi, Scribe: K. Kise)
· Internet and Open-source (Moderator: M. Liwicki, Scribes: P. Xiu and P. Pearson)
· Handwriting (Moderator: A. Sakakihara, Scribe: Y. Hotta)
· Image processing and restoration (Moderator: A. Gribov, Scribe: F. Dadgostar)
Last but not least, the best student paper award was given to Weihua Huang for the paper titled “Semi-automatic ground truth generation for chart image recognition” co-authored with Li Yang and Chew Lim Tan.
The participants greatly appreciated the organization of the conference and the quality of the contributions. I would like to express my gratitude to the chairs for their unaffected but professional organization of the workshop as well as for their longstanding guidance in the field for many young researchers and colleagues.
The selection process for the organization of DAS08 is taking place now.
Conference Report: DAS06
Larry Spitz (New Zealand)
Horst Bunke (Switzerland)