We report on results of training backpropagation nets with samples of hand-printed digits scanned off of bank checks and hand-printed letters interactively entered into a computer through a stylus digitizer. Generalization results are reported as a function of training set size and network capacity. Given a large training set, and a net with sufficient capacity to achieve high performance on the training set, nets typically achieved error rates of 4-5% at a 0% reject rate and 1-2% at a 10% reject rate. The topology and capacity of the system, as measured by the number of connections in the net, have surprisingly little effect on generalization. For those developing hand-printed character recognition systems, these results suggest that a large and representative training sample may be the single, most important factor in achieving high recognition accuracy. Benefits of reducing the number of net connections, other than improving generalization, are discussed.

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