This paper presents a comprehensive evaluation of the Optical Character Recognition (OCR) capabilities of the recently released GPT-4V(ision), a Large Multimodal Model (LMM). We assess the model's performance across a range of OCR tasks, including scene text recognition, handwritten text recognition, handwritten mathematical expression recognition, table structure recognition, and information extraction from visually-rich document. The evaluation reveals that GPT-4V performs well in recognizing and understanding Latin contents, but struggles with multilingual scenarios and complex tasks. Specifically, it showed limitations when dealing with non-Latin languages and complex tasks such as handwriting mathematical expression recognition, table structure recognition, and end-to-end semantic entity recognition and pair extraction from document image. Based on these observations, we affirm the necessity and continued research value of specialized OCR models. In general, despite its versatility in handling diverse OCR tasks, GPT-4V does not outperform existing state-of-the-art OCR models. How to fully utilize pre-trained general-purpose LMMs such as GPT-4V for OCR downstream tasks remains an open problem. The study offers a critical reference for future research in OCR with LMMs. Evaluation pipeline and results are available at https://github.com/SCUT-DLVCLab/GPT-4V_OCR.
In recent years, end-to-end scene text spotting approaches are evolving to the Transformer-based framework. While previous studies have shown the crucial importance of the intrinsic synergy between text detection and recognition, recent advances in Transformer-based methods usually adopt an implicit synergy strategy with shared query, which can not fully realize the potential of these two interactive tasks. In this paper, we argue that the explicit synergy considering distinct characteristics of text detection and recognition can significantly improve the performance text spotting. To this end, we introduce a new model named Explicit Synergy-based Text Spotting Transformer framework (ESTextSpotter), which achieves explicit synergy by modeling discriminative and interactive features for text detection and recognition within a single decoder. Specifically, we decompose the conventional shared query into task-aware queries for text polygon and content, respectively. Through the decoder with the proposed vision-language communication module, the queries interact with each other in an explicit manner while preserving discriminative patterns of text detection and recognition, thus improving performance significantly. Additionally, we propose a task-aware query initialization scheme to ensure stable training. Experimental results demonstrate that our model significantly outperforms previous state-of-the-art methods. Code is available at https://github.com/mxin262/ESTextSpotter.
This paper aims to re-assess scene text recognition (STR) from a data-oriented perspective. We begin by revisiting the six commonly used benchmarks in STR and observe a trend of performance saturation, whereby only 2.91% of the benchmark images cannot be accurately recognized by an ensemble of 13 representative models. While these results are impressive and suggest that STR could be considered solved, however, we argue that this is primarily due to the less challenging nature of the common benchmarks, thus concealing the underlying issues that STR faces. To this end, we consolidate a large-scale real STR dataset, namely Union14M, which comprises 4 million labeled images and 10 million unlabeled images, to assess the performance of STR models in more complex real-world scenarios. Our experiments demonstrate that the 13 models can only achieve an average accuracy of 66.53% on the 4 million labeled images, indicating that STR still faces numerous challenges in the real world. By analyzing the error patterns of the 13 models, we identify seven open challenges in STR and develop a challenge-driven benchmark consisting of eight distinct subsets to facilitate further progress in the field. Our exploration demonstrates that STR is far from being solved and leveraging data may be a promising solution. In this regard, we find that utilizing the 10 million unlabeled images through self-supervised pre-training can significantly improve the robustness of STR model in real-world scenarios and leads to state-of-the-art performance.
Scene text removal (STR) aims at replacing text strokes in natural scenes with visually coherent backgrounds. Recent STR approaches rely on iterative refinements or explicit text masks, resulting in higher complexity and sensitivity to the accuracy of text localization. Moreover, most existing STR methods utilize convolutional neural networks (CNNs) for feature representation while the potential of vision Transformers (ViTs) remains largely unexplored. In this paper, we propose a simple-yet-effective ViT-based text eraser, dubbed ViTEraser. Following a concise encoder-decoder framework, different types of ViTs can be easily integrated into ViTEraser to enhance the long-range dependencies and global reasoning. Specifically, the encoder hierarchically maps the input image into the hidden space through ViT blocks and patch embedding layers, while the decoder gradually upsamples the hidden features to the text-erased image with ViT blocks and patch splitting layers. As ViTEraser implicitly integrates text localization and inpainting, we propose a novel end-to-end pretraining method, termed SegMIM, which focuses the encoder and decoder on the text box segmentation and masked image modeling tasks, respectively. To verify the effectiveness of the proposed methods, we comprehensively explore the architecture, pretraining, and scalability of the ViT-based encoder-decoder for STR, which provides deep insights into the application of ViT to STR. Experimental results demonstrate that ViTEraser with SegMIM achieves state-of-the-art performance on STR by a substantial margin. Furthermore, the extended experiment on tampered scene text detection demonstrates the generality of ViTEraser to other tasks. We believe this paper can inspire more research on ViT-based STR approaches. Code will be available at https://github.com/shannanyinxiang/ViTEraser.
Large models have recently played a dominant role in natural language processing and multimodal vision-language learning. It remains less explored about their efficacy in text-related visual tasks. We conducted a comprehensive study of existing publicly available multimodal models, evaluating their performance in text recognition, text-based visual question answering, and key information extraction. Our findings reveal strengths and weaknesses in these models, which primarily rely on semantic understanding for word recognition and exhibit inferior perception of individual character shapes. They also display indifference towards text length and have limited capabilities in detecting fine-grained features in images. Consequently, these results demonstrate that even the current most powerful large multimodal models cannot match domain-specific methods in traditional text tasks and face greater challenges in more complex tasks. Most importantly, the baseline results showcased in this study could provide a foundational framework for the conception and assessment of innovative strategies targeted at enhancing zero-shot multimodal techniques. Evaluation pipeline will be available at https://github.com/Yuliang-Liu/MultimodalOCR.
End-to-end scene text spotting has made significant progress due to its intrinsic synergy between text detection and recognition. Previous methods commonly regard manual annotations such as horizontal rectangles, rotated rectangles, quadrangles,and polygons as a prerequisite, which are much more expensive than using single-point. For the first time, we demonstrate that training scene text spotting models can be achieved with an extremely low-cost single-point annotation by the proposed framework, termed SPTS v2. SPTS v2 reserves the advantage of the auto-regressive Transformer with an Instance Assignment Decoder (IAD) through sequentially predicting the center points of all text instances inside the same predicting sequence, while with a Parallel Recognition Decoder (PRD) for text recognition in parallel. These two decoders share the same parameters and are interactively connected with a simple but effective information transmission process to pass the gradient and information. Comprehensive experiments on various existing benchmark datasets demonstrate the SPTS v2 can outperform previous state-of-the-art single-point text spotters with fewer parameters while achieving 14x faster inference speed. Most importantly, within the scope of our SPTS v2, extensive experiments further reveal an important phenomenon that single-point serves as the optimal setting for the scene text spotting compared to non-point, rectangular bounding box, and polygonal bounding box. Such an attempt provides a significant opportunity for scene text spotting applications beyond the realms of existing paradigms. Code is available at https://github.com/shannanyinxiang/SPTS.
Handwritten Chinese text recognition (HCTR) has been an active research topic for decades. However, most previous studies solely focus on the recognition of cropped text line images, ignoring the error caused by text line detection in real-world applications. Although some approaches aimed at page-level text recognition have been proposed in recent years, they either are limited to simple layouts or require very detailed annotations including expensive line-level and even character-level bounding boxes. To this end, we propose PageNet for end-to-end weakly supervised page-level HCTR. PageNet detects and recognizes characters and predicts the reading order between them, which is more robust and flexible when dealing with complex layouts including multi-directional and curved text lines. Utilizing the proposed weakly supervised learning framework, PageNet requires only transcripts to be annotated for real data; however, it can still output detection and recognition results at both the character and line levels, avoiding the labor and cost of labeling bounding boxes of characters and text lines. Extensive experiments conducted on five datasets demonstrate the superiority of PageNet over existing weakly supervised and fully supervised page-level methods. These experimental results may spark further research beyond the realms of existing methods based on connectionist temporal classification or attention. The source code is available at https://github.com/shannanyinxiang/PageNet.
Online and offline handwritten Chinese text recognition (HTCR) has been studied for decades. Early methods adopted oversegmentation-based strategies but suffered from low speed, insufficient accuracy, and high cost of character segmentation annotations. Recently, segmentation-free methods based on connectionist temporal classification (CTC) and attention mechanism, have dominated the field of HCTR. However, people actually read text character by character, especially for ideograms such as Chinese. This raises the question: are segmentation-free strategies really the best solution to HCTR? To explore this issue, we propose a new segmentation-based method for recognizing handwritten Chinese text that is implemented using a simple yet efficient fully convolutional network. A novel weakly supervised learning method is proposed to enable the network to be trained using only transcript annotations; thus, the expensive character segmentation annotations required by previous segmentation-based methods can be avoided. Owing to the lack of context modeling in fully convolutional networks, we propose a contextual regularization method to integrate contextual information into the network during the training stage, which can further improve the recognition performance. Extensive experiments conducted on four widely used benchmarks, namely CASIA-HWDB, CASIA-OLHWDB, ICDAR2013, and SCUT-HCCDoc, show that our method significantly surpasses existing methods on both online and offline HCTR, and exhibits a considerably higher inference speed than CTC/attention-based approaches.
Large amounts of labeled data are urgently required for the training of robust text recognizers. However, collecting handwriting data of diverse styles, along with an immense lexicon, is considerably expensive. Although data synthesis is a promising way to relieve data hunger, two key issues of handwriting synthesis, namely, style representation and content embedding, remain unsolved. To this end, we propose a novel method that can synthesize parameterized and controllable handwriting Styles for arbitrary-Length and Out-of-vocabulary text based on a Generative Adversarial Network (GAN), termed SLOGAN. Specifically, we propose a style bank to parameterize the specific handwriting styles as latent vectors, which are input to a generator as style priors to achieve the corresponding handwritten styles. The training of the style bank requires only the writer identification of the source images, rather than attribute annotations. Moreover, we embed the text content by providing an easily obtainable printed style image, so that the diversity of the content can be flexibly achieved by changing the input printed image. Finally, the generator is guided by dual discriminators to handle both the handwriting characteristics that appear as separated characters and in a series of cursive joins. Our method can synthesize words that are not included in the training vocabulary and with various new styles. Extensive experiments have shown that high-quality text images with great style diversity and rich vocabulary can be synthesized using our method, thereby enhancing the robustness of the recognizer.