Attributed string matching has been utilized for polygon matching in various applications, in which line segments are the primitives. Adding a merge operator avoids the segmentation inconsistencies due to the noisy images or distorted shapes, however it is computationally expensive. In this paper, the vertices of the polygons are suggested as the primitives of the attributed strings. Deletion and insertion of a vertex corresponds to merging two consecutive line segments and splitting a line segment, respectively. In this way, the benefits of split and merge operations are placed in the dynamic programming algorithm for the edit distance evaluation without an extra computation-cost. (C) 2002 Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved.