Pioneering attempt towards automatic recognition of handwritten mathematical expressions dates back to 60's of the previous century. After this initial attempt, several researchers have tried to study this problem at different paces. However, during the last decade this research has gained considerable attention from the research community. There are several reasons behind this renewed interest. As an application, online recognition of expression provides a better human computer interface in order to prepare scientific documents. If successful system can be developed, entry of mathematics in documents would be easy. On the other hand, as a research problem online recognition of handwritten mathematics exhibits several fascinating challenges. The recognition problem is different from traditional OCR problem. Correct parsing of 2-D structure of an expression is not only an interest of OCR community but also of many researchers from other fields. Presence of enormous uncertainties and ambiguities makes the understanding problem difficult and at the same time enticing for the researchers. Achieving success in this domain would basically progress the state of the art in understanding of visual languages.
Therefore, many researchers around the world have been studying this problem, i.e. recognition of mathematical expressions. Every year, several papers are published in related journals, many papers are presented in relevant conferences. On this particular problem, altogether, more than 200 contributory papers have already been published in different journals and conference proceedings. In spite of this effort, it is very difficult to bring out a state of the art progress of this research. This is due to the fact that most of the research groups have been presenting their results based on their own dataset. Often times these datasets are not shareable and not available in public domain. Therefore, one group cannot replicate the results of others and hence, cannot clearly judge their progress too. Overall, the advancement of the field remains gray.
The proposed competition is aimed at bringing the researchers under a common platform so that they share the same dataset for their respective research and report performance of their systems on a common test data. This will not only document the advancement and challenges of the relevant research but at the same time, the individual group will understand relative strength and shortcomings of their system with respect to the others. As most of the researchers working in this area belong to the community as represented by ICDAR and ICHFR, we choose ICDAR and ICFHR as the right platform to hold this competition. The first version of this event, CROHME-I was held at ICDAR 2011, the second version, CROHME-II was organized along with ICFHR 2012 and the third CROHME-III was organized at ICDAR 2013.