Phillip Benjamin Ströbel


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Evaluation of HTR models without Ground Truth Material
Phillip Benjamin Ströbel | Martin Volk | Simon Clematide | Raphael Schwitter | Tobias Hodel | David Schoch
Proceedings of the Thirteenth Language Resources and Evaluation Conference

The evaluation of Handwritten Text Recognition (HTR) models during their development is straightforward: because HTR is a supervised problem, the usual data split into training, validation, and test data sets allows the evaluation of models in terms of accuracy or error rates. However, the evaluation process becomes tricky as soon as we switch from development to application. A compilation of a new (and forcibly smaller) ground truth (GT) from a sample of the data that we want to apply the model on and the subsequent evaluation of models thereon only provides hints about the quality of the recognised text, as do confidence scores (if available) the models return. Moreover, if we have several models at hand, we face a model selection problem since we want to obtain the best possible result during the application phase. This calls for GT-free metrics to select the best model, which is why we (re-)introduce and compare different metrics, from simple, lexicon-based to more elaborate ones using standard language models and masked language models (MLM). We show that MLM-based evaluation can compete with lexicon-based methods, with the advantage that large and multilingual transformers are readily available, thus making compiling lexical resources for other metrics superfluous.


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Language Resources for Historical Newspapers: the Impresso Collection
Maud Ehrmann | Matteo Romanello | Simon Clematide | Phillip Benjamin Ströbel | Raphaël Barman
Proceedings of the Twelfth Language Resources and Evaluation Conference

Following decades of massive digitization, an unprecedented amount of historical document facsimiles can now be retrieved and accessed via cultural heritage online portals. If this represents a huge step forward in terms of preservation and accessibility, the next fundamental challenge– and real promise of digitization– is to exploit the contents of these digital assets, and therefore to adapt and develop appropriate language technologies to search and retrieve information from this ‘Big Data of the Past’. Yet, the application of text processing tools on historical documents in general, and historical newspapers in particular, poses new challenges, and crucially requires appropriate language resources. In this context, this paper presents a collection of historical newspaper data sets composed of text and image resources, curated and published within the context of the ‘impresso - Media Monitoring of the Past’ project. With corpora, benchmarks, semantic annotations and language models in French, German and Luxembourgish covering ca. 200 years, the objective of the impresso resource collection is to contribute to historical language resources, and thereby strengthen the robustness of approaches to non-standard inputs and foster efficient processing of historical documents.

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How Much Data Do You Need? About the Creation of a Ground Truth for Black Letter and the Effectiveness of Neural OCR
Phillip Benjamin Ströbel | Simon Clematide | Martin Volk
Proceedings of the Twelfth Language Resources and Evaluation Conference

Recent advances in Optical Character Recognition (OCR) and Handwritten Text Recognition (HTR) have led to more accurate textrecognition of historical documents. The Digital Humanities heavily profit from these developments, but they still struggle whenchoosing from the plethora of OCR systems available on the one hand and when defining workflows for their projects on the other hand. In this work, we present our approach to build a ground truth for a historical German-language newspaper published in black letter. Wealso report how we used it to systematically evaluate the performance of different OCR engines. Additionally, we used this ground truthto make an informed estimate as to how much data is necessary to achieve high-quality OCR results. The outcomes of our experimentsshow that HTR architectures can successfully recognise black letter text and that a ground truth size of 50 newspaper pages suffices toachieve good OCR accuracy. Moreover, our models perform equally well on data they have not seen during training, which means thatadditional manual correction for diverging data is superfluous.