Algorithm Can 'Fill in the Blanks' of Ancient Texts

Algorithm could also be basis of search engine for old docs
By Harry Kimball,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 2, 2009 1:56 PM CDT
An ancient Hebrew document dated to the 2nd century AD.   (AP Photo)
camera-icon View 1 more image

(Newser) – A new computer algorithm could soon take some of the guesswork out of deciphering ancient texts, Reuters reports. The program, developed in Israel and currently used with ancient Hebrew, works with digital copies of unreadable texts and uses pattern recognition to “fill in the blanks,” says one of the developers. “The more texts the program analyzes, the smarter and more accurate it gets,” says one researcher.

The digitization and cataloging of texts could also make the program a key part of a Google-type search engine for ancient documents. “When enough texts have been digitized,” an expert says, “it will manage to combine fragments of books that have been scattered all over the world.” The developers say the program could be in the hands of academics worldwide in two years.