Pattern Classification by Adaptive Machines

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Science  07 Apr 1967:
Vol. 156, Issue 3771, pp. 38-44
DOI: 10.1126/science.156.3771.38


Man's intelligent behavior is due in part to his ability to select, classify, and abstract significant information reaching him from his environment by way of his senses. This function, pattern recognition, has become a major focus of research by scientists working in the field of artificial intelligence.

At the lowest level, pattern recognition reduces to pattern classification, which consists of the separation, into desired classes, of groups of objects, sounds, odors, events, properties, and the like; the separations are based on sets of measurements made on the entities being classified. The pattern classifier is composed of a data filter and a categorizer. The data filter selects the distinguishing features and represents them as sets of real numbers; each set is termed a pattern. The categorizer assigns each pattern to one of several desired classes.

Patterns can be represented geometrically as points in an n-dimensional space; the n coordinates of each point are the numerical values of the features selected to represent the pattern. A pattern classification system separates an n-dimensional space into regions, each of which ideally contains points of only one class. One method to effect this separation is by means of ldquo;trainablerdquo; categorizers—major components of adaptive machines. They consist of networks whose internal parameters are varied according to a set of fixed rules during a training cycle. A statistically large sample of known patterns are presented, one at a time, to the networks; internal corrections are made each time a pattern is erroneously classified. Classifica-tion performance tends to improve as the set of known patterns is cycled repetitively through the machine. Finally, the adequacy of adaptation is tested by a separate set of similar patterns which have not been used in the training process.

A number of different machine organizations and training rules have been developed and are being applied successfully to numerous classification problems. More difficult recognition problems requiring the aid of logioal tests and analysis, search and association, use the digital computer programmed to supplement the functions of the adaptive classifier.