Error Detection and Correction in Indic OCRs

Vinitha VS 


Indian languages have a rich literature that is not available in digitized form. Attempts have been made to preserve this repository of art and information by maintaining a digital library of scanned books. However, this does not fulfill the purpose as indexing and searching the documents is difficult in images. An OCR system can be used to convert the scanned documents to editable form. However, the OCR systems are error prone. These errors are largely unavoidable and occur due to issues like poor-quality images, complex font, unknown glyphs etc. A post-processing system can help in improving the accuracy by using the information about the patterns and constraints in the word and sentence formation to identify the errors and correct them. OCR is considered to be a problem attempted with marked success in Latin scripts, especially English. This is not the case with Indic scripts as the error rates of various OCR systems available are comparatively high. The OCR pipeline includes three main stages, namely segmentation, text recognition and post-processing. We observe that Indic scripts have complex scripts and glyph segmentation itself is a challenge. The existence of visually similar glyphs also makes the recognition process difficult. The challenges faced in the post-processing stage are largely due to the properties of Indian languages. The inflectional properties of some languages like Telugu and Malayalam and agglutination of words creates issues due to the enormous and growing vocabulary in these languages. Unlike alphabet system in English, Indic scripts follow alphasyllabary writing system. Hence the choice of unicodes as the basic unit of a word is questionable. Aksharas which are a more meaningful unit is considered as a better alternative to unicodes. In this thesis, we analyze the challenges in building an efficient post-processor for Indic language OCR s and propose two novel error detection techniques. The post-processing module deals with the detection of errors in the recognized text and correction of those detected errors. To understand the issues in post-processing in Indian languages, we first perform a statistical analysis of the textual data. The unavailability of huge corpus prompted us to crawl various newspaper sites and Wikipedia dump to obtain the required text data. We compare the unique word distribution and word cover of popular Indian languages with English. We observe that languages like Telugu, Tamil, Kannada and Malayalam tend to have huge number of unique words compared to English. We also observe how many words get converted to other valid words in the language, using the Hamming distance between the words as a measure. We empirically analyze the effectiveness of statistical language models for error detection and correction. First we use an ngram model for detection of errors in the OCR output. We use akshara splitwords to create a bigram and trigram language model which gives the probability of a word. A word is declared as an error word if it has lower probability than a pre-computed threshold value. For error correction, we replace the lowest probability ngram with a higher probability one from the ngram list. We observe that akshara level ngrams perform better than unicode level ngram models in both error detection and correction. We also discuss why the dictionary based method, a popular method used in English, is not a reliable solution for error detection and correction in case of Indic OCR s. We use a simple binary dictionary method for error detection, wherein if the word is present in the dictionary, it is tagged as a correct word and error otherwise. The major bottleneck in using a lexicon is the enormous words in the languages like Telugu and Malayalam. In error correction, we use Levenshtein and Gestalt scores to select the candidate words from the dictionary for replacement of error word. Inflection of words causes issues in selecting the correct words as the candidate list consists of many words which are close to the error word. We propose two novel methods for detecting errors in the OCR output. Both the methods are language independent and does not require knowledge of language grammar. For detecting the errors in the OCR output, the first method proposed uses a recurrent neural network to learn the patterns of errors and correct words in the OCR output. The second method is using a Gaussian mixture model based clustering technique. Both methods use a language model of unicode as well as akshara split words in creating the features. We argue that aksharas are a better choice as the basic unit of a word than unicode. An akshara is formed by the combination of one or more unicode characters. We tested our method on four popular Indian languages and report an average error detection performance above 80% on a dataset of 5 K pages recognized using two state of the art OCR systems.


Year of completion:  December 2017
 Advisor : C V Jawahar

Related Publications

  • V S Vinitha, Minesh Mathew and C. V. Jawahar - An Empirical Study of Effectiveness of Post-processing in Indic Scripts 6th International Workshop on Multilingual OCR, Kyoto, Japan, 2017. [PDF]

  • V S Vinitha, C V Jawahar - Error Detection in Indic OCRs - Proceedings of 12th IAPR International Workshop on Document Analysis Systems (DAS'16), 11-14 April, 2016, Santorini, Greece. [PDF]