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Shape description is one of the key parts of image content description in MPEG-7. Most existing shape descriptors are usually either application dependent or non-robust, making them undesirable for generic shape description. A generic Fourier descriptor (GFD) is proposed to overcome the drawbacks of existing shape representation techniques. The proposed shape descriptor is derived by applying a 2D Fourier transform on a polar raster sampled shape image. The acquired shape descriptor is application independent and robust. Experimental results show the GFD outperforms the Zernike moment descriptor (ZMD) which has been proposed as the shape descriptor for MPEG-7.