Efficient Document Image Binarization using Heterogeneous Computing and Interactive Machine Learning

Abstract: Large collections of historical document images have been collected by companies and government institutions for decades. More recently, these collections have been made available to a larger public via the Internet. However, to make accessing them truly useful, the contained images need to be made readable and searchable. One step in that direction is document image binarization, the separation of text foreground from page background. This separation makes the text shown in the document images easier to process by humans and other image processing algorithms alike. While reasonably well working binarization algorithms exist, it is not sufficient to just being able to perform the separation of foreground and background well. This separation also has to be achieved in an efficient manner, in terms of execution time, but also in terms of training data used by machine learning based methods. This is necessary to make binarization not only theoretically possible, but also practically viable.In this thesis, we explore different ways to achieve efficient binarization in terms of execution time by improving the implementation and the algorithm of a state-of-the-art binarization method. We find that parameter prediction, as well as mapping the algorithm onto the graphics processing unit (GPU) help to improve its execution performance. Furthermore, we propose a binarization algorithm based on recurrent neural networks and evaluate the choice of its design parameters with respect to their impact on execution time and binarization quality. Here, we identify a trade-off between binarization quality and execution performance based on the algorithm’s footprint size and show that dynamically weighted training loss tends to improve the binarization quality. Lastly, we address the problem of training data efficiency by evaluating the use of interactive machine learning for reducing the required amount of training data for our recurrent neural network based method. We show that user feedback can help to achieve better binarization quality with less training data and that visualized uncertainty helps to guide users to give more relevant feedback.