Entity recognition is a fundamental task in understanding document images. Traditional sequence labeling frameworks treat the entity types as class IDs and rely on extensive data and high-quality annotations to learn semantics which are typically expensive in practice. In this paper, we aim to build an entity recognition model requiring only a few shots of annotated document images. To overcome the data limitation, we propose to leverage the label surface names to better inform the model of the target entity type semantics and also embed the labels into the spatial embedding space to capture the spatial correspondence between regions and labels. Specifically, we go beyond sequence labeling and develop a novel label-aware seq2seq framework, LASER. The proposed model follows a new labeling scheme that generates the label surface names word-by-word explicitly after generating the entities. During training, LASER refines the label semantics by updating the label surface name representations and also strengthens the label-region correlation. In this way, LASER recognizes the entities from document images through both semantic and layout correspondence. Extensive experiments on two benchmark datasets demonstrate the superiority of LASER under the few-shot setting.
Reading order detection is the cornerstone to understanding visually-rich documents (e.g., receipts and forms). Unfortunately, no existing work took advantage of advanced deep learning models because it is too laborious to annotate a large enough dataset. We observe that the reading order of WORD documents is embedded in their XML metadata; meanwhile, it is easy to convert WORD documents to PDFs or images. Therefore, in an automated manner, we construct ReadingBank, a benchmark dataset that contains reading order, text, and layout information for 500,000 document images covering a wide spectrum of document types. This first-ever large-scale dataset unleashes the power of deep neural networks for reading order detection. Specifically, our proposed LayoutReader captures the text and layout information for reading order prediction using the seq2seq model. It performs almost perfectly in reading order detection and significantly improves both open-source and commercial OCR engines in ordering text lines in their results in our experiments. The dataset and models are publicly available at https://aka.ms/layoutreader.
Form understanding depends on both textual contents and organizational structure. Although modern OCR performs well, it is still challenging to realize general form understanding because forms are commonly used and of various formats. The table detection and handcrafted features in previous works cannot apply to all forms because of their requirements on formats. Therefore, we concentrate on the most elementary components, the key-value pairs, and adopt multimodal methods to extract features. We consider the form structure as a tree-like or graph-like hierarchy of text fragments. The parent-child relation corresponds to the key-value pairs in forms. We utilize the state-of-the-art models and design targeted extraction modules to extract multimodal features from semantic contents, layout information, and visual images. A hybrid fusion method of concatenation and feature shifting is designed to fuse the heterogeneous features and provide an informative joint representation. We adopt an asymmetric algorithm and negative sampling in our model as well. We validate our method on two benchmarks, MedForm and FUNSD, and extensive experiments demonstrate the effectiveness of our method.
We introduce and study semantic capacity of terms. For example, the semantic capacity of artificial intelligence is higher than that of linear regression since artificial intelligence possesses a broader meaning scope. Understanding semantic capacity of terms will help many downstream tasks in natural language processing. For this purpose, we propose a two-step model to investigate semantic capacity of terms, which takes a large text corpus as input and can evaluate semantic capacity of terms if the text corpus can provide enough co-occurrence information of terms. Extensive experiments in three fields demonstrate the effectiveness and rationality of our model compared with well-designed baselines and human-level evaluations.