Wavelet neural networks combine the functions of time–frequency localization from the wavelet transform and of self-studying from the neural network, which make them particularly suitable for the classification of complex patterns. In this paper, an efficient object recognition method using boundary representation and the wavelet neural network is proposed. The method employs a wavelet neural network (WNN) to characterize the singularities of the object curvature representation and to perform the object classification at the same time and in an automatic way. The local time–frequency attributes of the singularities on the object boundary are detected by making a preliminary wavelet analysis of the curvature representation. Then, the discriminative scale–translation features of the singularities are stored as the initial scale–translation parameters of the wavelet nodes in the WNN. These parameters are trained to their optimum status during the learning stage. With our approach, as opposed to matching features by convolving the signal with wavelet functions at a large number of scales, the computational burden is significantly reduced. Only a few convolutions are performed at the optimum scale–translation grids during the classification, which makes it suitable for real-time recognition tasks. Compared with the artificial-neural-network-based approaches preceded by wavelet filter banks with fixed scale–translation parameters, the support vector machine (SVM) using traditional Fourier descriptors and -nearest-neighbor ( -NN) classifier based on the state-of-the-art shape descriptors, our scheme demonstrates superior and stable discrimination performance under various noisy and affine conditions.