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The syntactic method is used to describe the structure of a two-dimensional shape by grammatical rules and the local details by primitives. Four attributes are proposed to describe an open curve segment, and the angle between two consecutive curve segments is used to describe the connection. The properties of the attributes and the recognition capability are studied. Two algorithms are implemented to perform the primitive extraction and syntax analysis at the same step by using both semantic and syntactic information, namely, the attributes and production rules. Also, an automatic inference procedure for the shape grammar is presented. This approach attempts to develop a general method for shape recognition.