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    After looking at example project and other stuff, published by AQA about non-exam assessment, I now realize, that the project they want us to make is a database of databases with data about databases. So is it ok if my project doesn't involve them?
    I am writing is simple HWR (handwriting recognition) program, which is not an easy algorithm to implement, but it looks like I'll miss out half of the marks because of not using SQL anywhere. Does this topic have any chance at all? I'm only recognizing about 20 different characters, would that be "complex" enough for them?

    Also, would it be considered as a proper "pattern recognition", if all I'm doing is cropping image in several parts and counting black pixels in them to produce an output?
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    The project provided by AQA is only an example project. You do not need to include databases in the program, however, if you do it is classes as a more complex project. As you are doing letter recognition, I'm sure your project will be complex enough.
    As AQA have stated, the most important thing is that the project works and meets all of the user requirements (42/72 marks are for the program itself).
 
 
 
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Updated: January 15, 2017
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