|The recognition of symbols in graphic documents is an intensive research activity in the community of pattern recognition and document analysis. A key issue in the interpretation of maps, engineering drawings, diagrams, etc. is the recognition of domain dependent symbols according to a symbol database. In this work we first review the most outstanding symbol recognition methods from two different points of view: application domains and pattern recognition methods. In the second part of the paper, open and unaddressed problems involved in symbol recognition are described, analyzing their current state of art and discussing future research challenges. Thus, issues such as symbol representation, matching, segmentation, learning, scalability of recognition methods and performance evaluation are addressed in this work. Finally, we discuss the perspectives of symbol recognition concerning to new paradigms such as user interfaces in handheld computers or document database and WWW indexing by graphical content.