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Neural Word Search in Historical Manuscript Collections
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Science and Technology, Mathematics and Computer Science, Department of Information Technology, Division of Visual Information and Interaction.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-6783-1744
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Arts, Department of History.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-5245-937X
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Science and Technology, Mathematics and Computer Science, Department of Information Technology, Division of Visual Information and Interaction.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-4405-6888
(English)Manuscript (preprint) (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

We address the problem of segmenting and retrieving word images in collections of historical manuscripts given a text query. This is commonly referred to as "word spotting". To this end, we first propose an end-to-end trainable model based on deep neural networks that we dub Ctrl-F-Net. The model simultaneously generates region proposals and embeds them into a word embedding space, wherein a search is performed. We further introduce a simplified version called Ctrl-F-Mini. It is faster with similar performance, though it is limited to more easily segmented manuscripts. We evaluate both models on common benchmark datasets and surpass the previous state of the art. Finally, in collaboration with historians, we employ the Ctrl-F-Net to search within a large manuscript collection of over 100 thousand pages, written across two centuries. With only 11 training pages, we enable large scale data collection in manuscript-based historical research. This results in a speed up of data collection and the number of manuscripts processed by orders of magnitude. Given the time consuming manual work required to study old manuscripts in the humanities, quick and robust tools for word spotting has the potential to revolutionise domains like history, religion and language.

Keywords [en]
Word spotting, Historical Manuscripts, Deep Convolutional Neural Network, Region Proposals
National Category
Computer Vision and Robotics (Autonomous Systems)
Research subject
Computerized Image Processing
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-381306OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-381306DiVA, id: diva2:1302902
Projects
q2b
Funder
Swedish Research Council, 2012-5743Riksbankens Jubileumsfond, NHS14-2068:1Available from: 2019-04-07 Created: 2019-04-07 Last updated: 2019-04-08
In thesis
1. Learning based Word Search and Visualisation for Historical Manuscript Images
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Learning based Word Search and Visualisation for Historical Manuscript Images
2019 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Today, work with historical manuscripts is nearly exclusively done manually, by researchers in the humanities as well as laypeople mapping out their personal genealogy. This is a highly time consuming endeavour as it is not uncommon to spend months with the same volume of a few hundred pages. The last few decades have seen an ongoing effort to digitise manuscripts, both preservation purposes and to increase accessibility. This has the added effect of enabling the use methods and algorithms from Image Analysis and Machine Learning that have great potential in both making existing work more efficient and creating new methodologies for manuscript-based research.

The first part of this thesis focuses on Word Spotting, the task of searching for a given text query in a manuscript collection. This can be broken down into two tasks, detecting where the words are located on the page, and then ranking the words according to their similarity to a search query. We propose Deep Learning models to do both, separately and then simultaneously, and successfully search through a large manuscript collection consisting of over a hundred thousand pages.

A limiting factor in applying learning-based methods to historical manuscript images is the cost, and therefore, lack of annotated data needed to train machine learning models. We propose several ways to mitigate this problem, including generating synthetic data, augmenting existing data to get better value from it, and learning from pre-existing, partially annotated data that was previously unusable.

In the second part, a method for visualising manuscript collections called the Image-based Word Cloud is proposed. Much like it text-based counterpart, it arranges the most representative words in a collection into a cloud, where the size of the words are proportional to their frequency of occurrence. This grants a user a single image overview of a manuscript collection, regardless of its size. We further propose a way to estimate a manuscripts production date. This can grant historians context that is crucial for correctly interpreting the contents of a manuscript.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Uppsala: Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis, 2019. p. 82
Series
Digital Comprehensive Summaries of Uppsala Dissertations from the Faculty of Science and Technology, ISSN 1651-6214 ; 1798
Keywords
Word Spotting, Convolutional Neural Networks, Deep Learning, Region Proposals, Historical Manuscripts, Computer Vision, Image Analysis, Visualisation, Document Analysis
National Category
Computer Vision and Robotics (Autonomous Systems)
Research subject
Computerized Image Processing
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-381308 (URN)978-91-513-0633-9 (ISBN)
Public defence
2019-06-04, TLS (Tidskriftläsesalen), Carolina Rediviva, Dag Hammarskjölds väg 1, Uppsala, 10:15 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Funder
Swedish Research Council, 2012-5743Riksbankens Jubileumsfond, NHS14-2068:1
Available from: 2019-05-13 Created: 2019-04-08 Last updated: 2019-06-18

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