How do they account for coins which are subsequently cleaned and/or conserved? Bronze in particular is of concern because of the practice of cleaning and "repatination", but silver can also be cleaned, toned and to some extent scratches, gashes, etc can be "fixed" without "tooling". Also, with the number of coins in museum collections, private ownership and in dealer inventories the count is in the TENS OF MILLIONS at the very least.
I don't know if these researchers are being successful. Their well-funded project is a sign of considerable police interest in Europe.The idea is to develop a mathematical measure of how similar two coin photographs are. The coin may be cleaned, lighted differently, taken from a different angle, or rotated differently, and appear against a different background. A good algorithm would be able to discover cast fakes.Similar problems in computer vision are optical character recognition of scanned documents and face recognition for security purposes.Here is an earlier blog post on the COINS project and their techniques.
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