Towards Scalable Applications for Handwritten Documents


rowtula Vijay


Even in today’s world, a large number of documents are generated as handwritten documents. This is specially true when the knowledge/expertise is captured conveniently with availability of electronic gad- gets. Information extraction from handwritten document images has numerous applications, especially in digitization of archived handwritten documents, assessing patient medical records and automated evaluation of student handwritten assessments, to mention a few. Document categorization and tar- geted information extraction from various such sources can help in designing better search and retrieval systems for handwritten document images. Information extraction from handwritten medical records written in ambulance for doctor’s interpretation in hospital, reading postal address to automate the let-ter sorting are examples where document image work flow helped in scaling the system with minimal human intervention. In such work flow systems, images flow across subjects who can be in different locations. Our work is motivated with the success of these document image work-flow systems that were put into practice when the handwriting recognition accuracy was unacceptably low. Our goal is to bring scalability in handwritten document processing which can enhance the throughput of the analysis by employing multitude of developments in document image space. In this thesis, we initially focus on presenting a document image workflow system that helps in scal-ing the handwritten student assessments in a typical university setting. We observed that this improves the efficiency since the book keeping time as well as physical paper movement is minimized. An electronic workflow can make the anonymization easy, alleviating the fear of biases in many cases. Also, parallel and distributed assessment by multiple instructors is straightforward in an electronic workflow system. At the heart of our solution, we have (i) a distributed image capture module with a mobile phone (ii) image processing algorithms that improve the quality and readability (iii) image annotation module that process the evaluations/feedbacks as a separate layer. Further, we extend our work by proposing an approach to detect POS and Named Entity tags directly from offline handwritten document images without explicit character/word recognition. We observed that POS tagging on handwritten text sequences increases the predictability of named entities and also brings a linguistic aspect to handwritten document analysis. As a pre-processing step, the document image is binarized and segmented into word images. The proposed approach comprising of a CNN - LSTM model, trained on word image sequences produces encouraging results on challenging IAM dataset. Finally, we describe an effective method for automatically evaluating the short descriptive hand-written answers from the digitized images. Automated evaluation of handwritten answers has been a challenging problem for scaling education system for many years. Speeding up the evaluation still re- mains as the major bottleneck for enhancing the throughput. Our goal is to assign an evaluation score that is comparable to the human assigned scores. Our solution is based on the observation that a human evaluator judges the relevance of the answer using a set of keywords and their semantics. Since reliable handwriting recognizer are not yet available, we attempt this problem in the image space. We model this problem as a self supervised, feature based classification problem, which can fine tune itself for each question without any explicit supervision. We conduct experiments on three different datasets obtained from students. Experiments show that our method performs comparable to that of human evaluators. With these works, we attempted to bring state-of-the-art enhancements in handwritten document analysis and deep learning into scalable applications which can be helpful in the field of education.


Year of completion:  June 2019
 Advisor : C V Jawahar

Related Publications

  • Vijay Rowtula, Subba Reddy Oota and C. V. JawaharTowards Automated Evaluation of Handwritten Assessments, The 15th International Conference on Document Analysis and Recognition (ICDAR), 2019, 20 - 25 September 2019, Australia.[PDF]

  • Vijay Rowtula, Praveen Krishnan, C.V. Jawahar - POS Tagging and Named Entity Recognition on Handwritten Documents, ICON, 2018[PDF]