image provider

Plant Identifier


This essay does not describe an existing computer program, just one that should exist. This essay is about a suggested student project in Java programming. This essay gives a rough overview of how it might work. I have no source, object, specifications, file layouts or anything else useful to implementing this project. Everything I have prepared to help you is right here.

This project outline is not like the artificial, tidy little problems you are spoon-fed in school, when all the facts you need are included, nothing extraneous is mentioned, the answer is fully specified, along with hints to nudge you toward a single expected canonical solution. This project is much more like the real world of messy problems where it is up to you to fully the define the end point, or a series of ever more difficult versions of this project and research the information yourself to solve them.

Everything I have to say to help you with this project is written below. I am not prepared to help you implement it; or give you any additional materials. I have too many other projects of my own.

Though I am a programmer by profession, I don’t do people’s homework for them. That just robs them of an education.

You have my full permission to implement this project in any way you please and to keep all the profits from your endeavour.

Please do not email me about this project without reading the disclaimer above.

Have you ever walked down a street and seen some unusual tree in the boulevard or plant and wondered what it was called. You may have gone on newsgroups and tried to describe it. If you are lucky you get a name you can look up with Google image and check for a match.

The idea of this project is to create a generic tree or plant identifier. It could also be used for identifying exotic fruits, vegetables, dog breeds, species of pear tree, widgets etc. You use it by being shown 10 pictures. You click your first and second choice. Then the program shows you 10 more pictures, hopefully closer to the target you have in mind, or on a photo on your desk. You repeat until you have identified the plant/tree etc. to the desired degree of fineness.

Behind the scenes you need to compose a database of all species you want to handle. You need to code each one with characteristics, including, colours, size range, Linnaeic name fragments, etc. and most important sample photos. You use the cleverness of SQL (Standard Query Language) to find better and better guesses.

You might implement the project as a stand-alone application or as a website. You might market it to seed catalogs, nurseries, museums, plumbing supply stores, hardware stores. They might use it in kiosks or in a website. You might get your customers to do much of the work preparing photos and data collecting.

You can make the project easier on yourself by picking something quite specialised, e.g. poison dart frogs or where you already gave a suitable set of identically sized images.

To get an ideas for the questions or images you might show to the user, go to the library and look for books on plant/mushroom/tree/apple… identification. You might contact the author offering to put her book on CD (Compact Disc) in computerised form.

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