Apparatus and processes for recognizing and identifying materials. Characteristic spectra are obtained for the materials via spectroscopy techniques including nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy, infrared absorption analysis, x-ray analysis, mass spectroscopy and gas chromatography. Desired portions of the spectra may be selected and then placed in proper form and format for presentation to a number of input layer neurons in an offline neural network. The network is first trained according to a predetermined training process; it may then be employed to identify particular materials. Such apparatus and processes are particularly useful for recognizing and identifying organic compounds such as complex carbohydrates, whose spectra conventionally require a high level of training and many hours of hard work to identify, and are frequently indistinguishable from one another by human interpretation.