A symbol-based algorithm for decoding bar codes

Mark A. Iwen, Fadil Santosa, Rachel Ward

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


We investigate the problem of decoding a bar code from a signal measured with a hand-held laser-based scanner. Rather than formulating the inverse problem as one of binary image reconstruction, we instead incorporate the symbology of the bar code into the reconstruction algorithm directly, and search for a sparse representation of the Universal Product Code bar code with respect to this known dictionary. Our approach significantly reduces the degrees of freedom in the problem, allowing for accurate reconstruction that is robust to noise and unknown parameters in the scanning device. We propose a greedy reconstruction algorithm and provide robust reconstruction guarantees. Numerical examples illustrate the insensitivity of our symbology-based reconstruction to both imprecise model parameters and noise on the scanned measurements.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)56-77
Number of pages22
JournalSIAM Journal on Imaging Sciences
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 24 2013


  • Bar code decoding
  • Deconvolution
  • Inverse problem
  • Parameter estimation
  • Symbol-based method


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