Focused Structural Document Image Retrieval in Digital Mailroom Applications
Thesis Committee: Dr. David Doermann (Language and Media Processing Laboratory. University of Maryland at College Park. USA), Dr. C.V. Jawaha (Internaional Inst. of Information Technology. India) & Dr. Andrew Bagdanov (Centre de Visio per Computador. Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona. Spain)
In this work, we develop a generic framework that is able to handle the document retrieval problem in various scenarios such as searching for full page matches or retrieving the counterparts for specific document areas, focusing on their structural similarity or letting their visual resemblance to play a dominant role. Based on the spatial indexing technique, we propose to search for matches of local key-region pairs carrying both structural and visual information from the collection while a scheme allowing to adjust the relative contribution of structural and visual similarity is presented. Based on the fact that the structure of documents is tightly linked with the distance among their elements, we firstly introduce an efficient detector named Distance Transform based Maximally Stable Extremal Regions (DTMSER). We illustrate that this detector is able to efficiently extract the structure of a document image as a dendrogram (hierarchical tree) of multi-scale key-regions that roughly correspond to letters, words and paragraphs. We demonstrate that, without benefiting from the structure information, the key-regions extracted by the DTMSER algorithm achieve better results comparing with state-of-the-art methods while much less amount of key-regions are employed. We subsequently propose a pair-wise Bag of Words (BoW) framework to efficiently embed the explicit structure extracted by the DTMSER algorithm. We represent each document as a list of key-region pairs that correspond to the edges in the dendrogram where inclusion relationship is encoded. By employing those structural key-region pairs as the pooling elements for generating the histogram of features, the proposed method is able to encode the explicit inclusion relations into a BoW representation. The experimental results illustrate that the pair-wise BoW, powered by the embedded structural information, achieves remarkable improvement over the conventional BoW and spatial pyramidal BoW methods. To handle various retrieval scenarios in one framework, we propose to directly query a series of key-region pairs, carrying both structure and visual information, from the collection. We introduce the spatial indexing techniques to the document retrieval community to speed up the structural relationship computation for key-region pairs. We firstly test the proposed framework in a full page retrieval scenario where structurally similar matches are expected. In this case, the pair-wise querying method achieves notable improvement over the BoW and spatial pyramidal BoW frameworks. Furthermore, we illustrate that the proposed method is also able to handle focused retrieval situations where the queries are defined as a specific interesting partial areas of the images. We examine our method on two types of focused queries: structure-focused and exact queries. The experimental results show that, the proposed generic framework obtains nearly perfect precision on both types of focused queries while it is the first framework able to tackle structure-focused queries, setting a new state of the art in the field. Besides, we introduce a line verification method to check the spatial consistency among the matched key-region pairs. We propose a computationally efficient version of line verification through a two step implementation. We first compute tentative localizations of the query and subsequently employ them to divide the matched key-region pairs into several groups, then line verification is performed within each group while more precise bounding boxes are computed. We demonstrate that, comparing with the standard approach (based on RANSAC), the line verification proposed generally achieves much higher recall with slight loss on precision on specific queries.