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This paper proposes a statistical character structure modeling method. It represents each stroke by the distribution of the feature points. The character structure is represented by the joint distribution of the component strokes. In the proposed model, the stroke relationship is effectively reflected by the statistical dependency. It can represent all kinds of stroke relationship effectively in a systematic way. Based on the character representation, a stroke neighbor selection method is also proposed. It measures the importance of a stroke relationship by the mutual information among the strokes. With such a measure, the important neighbor relationships are selected by the nth order probability approximation method. The neighbor selection algorithm reduces the complexity significantly because we can reflect only some important relationships instead of all existing relationships. The proposed character modeling method was applied to a handwritten Chinese character recognition system. Applying a model-driven stroke extraction algorithm that cooperates with a selective matching algorithm, the proposed system is better than conventional structural recognition systems in analyzing degraded images. The effectiveness of the proposed methods was visualized by the experiments. The proposed method successfully detected and reflected the stroke relationships that seemed intuitively important. The overall recognition rate was 98.45 percent, which confirms the effectiveness of the proposed methods.