HierCode: A Lightweight Hierarchical Codebook for Zero-shot Chinese Text Recognition


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Text recognition, especially for complex scripts like Chinese, faces unique challenges due to its intricate character structures and vast vocabulary. Traditional one-hot encoding methods struggle with the representation of hierarchical radicals, recognition of Out-Of-Vocabulary (OOV) characters, and on-device deployment due to their computational intensity. To address these challenges, we propose HierCode, a novel and lightweight codebook that exploits the innate hierarchical nature of Chinese characters. HierCode employs a multi-hot encoding strategy, leveraging hierarchical binary tree encoding and prototype learning to create distinctive, informative representations for each character. This approach not only facilitates zero-shot recognition of OOV characters by utilizing shared radicals and structures but also excels in line-level recognition tasks by computing similarity with visual features, a notable advantage over existing methods. Extensive experiments across diverse benchmarks, including handwritten, scene, document, web, and ancient text, have showcased HierCode's superiority for both conventional and zero-shot Chinese character or text recognition, exhibiting state-of-the-art performance with significantly fewer parameters and fast inference speed.
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