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We present a probabilistic framework for the mathematical expression recognition problem. The developed system is flexible in that its grammar can be extended easily thanks to its graph grammar which eliminates the need for specifying rule precedence. It is also optimal in the sense that all possible interpretations of the expressions are expanded without making early commitments or hard decisions. In this paper, we give an overview of the whole system and describe in detail the graph grammar and the parsing process used in the system, along with some preliminary results on character, structure and expression recognition performances.