Writer identification using directional ink-trace width measurements

A. A. Brink*, J. Smit, M. L. Bulacu, L. R. B. Schomaker

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

98 Citations (Scopus)


As suggested by modern paleography, the width of ink traces is a powerful source of information for off-line writer identification, particularly if combined with its direction. Such measurements can be computed using simple, fast and accurate methods based on pixel contours, the combination of which forms a powerful feature for writer identification: the Quill feature. It is a probability distribution of the relation between the ink direction and the ink width. It was tested in writer identification experiments on two datasets of challenging medieval handwriting and two datasets of modern handwriting. The feature achieved a nearest-neighbor accuracy in the range of 63-95%, which even approaches the performance of two state-of-the-art features in contemporary-writer identification (Hinge and Fraglets). The feature is intuitive and explainable and its principle is supported by a model of trace production by a quill. It illustrates that ink width patterns are valuable. A slightly more complex variant of Quill, QuillHinge, scored 70-97% writer identification accuracy. The features are already being used by domain experts using a graphical interface. (C) 2011 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)162-171
Number of pages10
JournalPattern recognition
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan-2012


  • Behavioral biometrics
  • Feature extraction
  • Handwriting analysis
  • Ink trace width
  • Medieval handwriting
  • Off-line
  • Paleography
  • Quill
  • Writer identification
  • LINE
  • PEN

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