Detecting Figures and Part Labels in Patents: Competition-Based Development of Image Processing Algorithms

Riedl, C., Zanibbi, R., Hearst, M. A., Zhu, S., Menietti, M., Crusan, J., Metelsky, I., Lakhani, K. (2016).
International Journal on Document Analysis and Recognition
19(2), 155-172
February 20, 2016


We report the  findings of a month-long online competition in which participants developed  algorithms for augmenting the digital version of patent documents published  by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). The goal was to  detect figures and part labels in U.S. patent drawing pages. The challenge  drew 232 teams of two, of which 70 teams (30%) submitted solutions.  Collectively, teams submitted 1,797 solutions that were compiled on the  competition servers. Participants reported spending an average of 63 hours  developing their solutions, resulting in a total of 5,591 hours of  development time. A manually labeled dataset of 306 patents was used for  training, online system tests, and evaluation. The design and performance of  the top-5 systems are presented, along with a system developed after the  competition which illustrates that winning teams produced near  state-of-the-art results under strict time and computation constraints. For  the 1st place system, the harmonic mean of recall and precision (f-measure)  was 88.57% for figure region detection, 78.81% for figure regions with  correctly recognized figure titles, and 70.98% for part label detection and  character recognition. Data and software from the competition are available  through the online UCI Machine Learning repository to inspire follow-on work  by the image processing community.

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