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The outlines of handwritten numerals are approximated by polygons using a method previously developed by Pavlidis and Horowitz . This enables a simple evaluation of many intuitively descriptive features for numerals, for example, relative position and type of concave arcs. The method was tested on the Munson data (IEEE Data Base 1.2.2), and an overall error rate of 9.4 percent was achieved without any statistical optimization. A characteristic property of this approach is the existence of two steps: the first step (primitive feature generation) is primarily numerical, and the second step (feature selection and classification) makes extensive use of semantics.