How to use the tools provided to train Tesseract 4.00

Have questions about the training process? If you had some problems during the training process and you need help, use tesseract-ocr mailing-list to ask your question(s). PLEASE DO NOT report your problems and ask questions about training as issues!

Introduction

Tesseract 4.00 includes a new neural network-based recognition engine that delivers significantly higher accuracy (on document images) than the previous versions, in return for a significant increase in required compute power. On complex languages however, it may actually be faster than base Tesseract.

Neural networks require significantly more training data and train a lot slower than base Tesseract. For Latin-based languages, the existing model data provided has been trained on about 400000 textlines spanning about 4500 fonts. For other scripts, not so many fonts are available, but they have still been trained on a similar number of textlines. Instead of taking a few minutes to a couple of hours to train, Tesseract 4.00 takes a few days to a couple of weeks. Even with all this new training data, you might find it inadequate for your particular problem, and therefore you are here wanting to retrain it.

There are multiple options for training:

While the above options may sound different, the training steps are actually almost identical, apart from the command line, so it is relatively easy to try it all ways, given the time or hardware to run them in parallel.

For 4.00 at least, the old recognition engine is still present, and can also be trained, but is deprecated, and, unless good reasons materialize to keep it, may be deleted in a future release.

Before You Start

You don’t need any background in neural networks to train Tesseract 4.00, but it may help in understanding the difference between the training options. Please read the Implementation introduction before delving too deeply into the training process, and the same note as for training Tesseract 3.04 applies:

Important note: Before you invest time and effort on training Tesseract, it is highly recommended to read the ImproveQuality page.

Additional Libraries Required

Beginning with 3.03, additional libraries are required to build the training tools.

sudo apt-get install libicu-dev libpango1.0-dev libcairo2-dev

Building the Training Tools

Beginning with 3.03, if you’re compiling Tesseract from source you need to make and install the training tools with separate make commands. Once the above additional libraries have been installed, run the following from the Tesseract source directory:

./configure

or if you plan to run in docker (or do not require graphics):

./configure --disable-graphics

By default Tesseract configuration will proceed if dependencies required only for training are missing, but for training, you will have to ensure all those optional dependencies are installed and that Tesseract’s build environment can locate them. Look for these lines in the output of ./configure:

checking for pkg-config... [some valid path]
checking for lept >= 1.74... yes
checking for libarchive... yes
checking for icu-uc >= 52.1... yes
checking for icu-i18n >= 52.1... yes
checking for pango >= 1.22.0... yes
checking for cairo... yes
[...]
Training tools can be built and installed with:

(The version numbers may change over time, of course. What we are looking for is “yes”, all of the optional dependencies are available.)

If configure does not say the training tools can be built, you still need to add libraries or ensure that pkg-config can find them.

After configuring, you can attempt to build the training tools:

make
make training
sudo make training-install

It is also useful, but not required, to build ScrollView.jar:

make ScrollView.jar
export SCROLLVIEW_PATH=$PWD/java

On macOS Mojave with Homebrew

Homebrew has an unusual way of setting up pkgconfig so you must opt-in to certain files. In general run brew info package and ensure that you append the mentioned PKG_CONFIG_PATH to this environment variable.

brew install cairo pango icu4c autoconf libffi libarchive
export PKG_CONFIG_PATH=\
$(brew --prefix)/lib/pkgconfig:\
$(brew --prefix)/opt/libarchive/lib/pkgconfig:\
$(brew --prefix)/opt/icu4c/lib/pkgconfig:\
$(brew --prefix)/opt/libffi/lib/pkgconfig
./configure

Hardware-Software Requirements

At time of writing, training only works on Linux. (macOS almost works; it requires minor hacks to the shell scripts to account for the older version of bash it provides and differences in mktemp.) Windows is unknown, but would need msys or Cygwin.

As for running Tesseract 4.0.0, it is useful, but not essential to have a multi-core (4 is good) machine, with OpenMP and Intel Intrinsics support for SSE/AVX extensions. Basically it will still run on anything with enough memory, but the higher-end your processor is, the faster it will go. No GPU is needed. (No support.) Memory use can be controlled via the –max_image_MB command-line option, but you are likely to need at least 1GB of memory over and above what is taken by your OS.

Training Text Requirements

For Latin-based languages, the existing model data provided has been trained on about 400000 textlines spanning about 4500 fonts. For other scripts, not so many fonts are available, but they have still been trained on a similar number of textlines.

Note that it is beneficial to have more training text and make more pages though, as neural nets don’t generalize as well and need to train on something similar to what they will be running on. If the target domain is severely limited, then all the dire warnings about needing a lot of training data may not apply, but the network specification may need to be changed.

Overview of Training Process

The overall training process is similar to training 3.04.

Conceptually the same:

  1. Prepare training text.
  2. Render text to image + box file. (Or create hand-made box files for existing image data.)
  3. Make unicharset file. (Can be partially specified, ie created manually).
  4. Make a starter traineddata from the unicharset and optional dictionary data.
  5. Run tesseract to process image + box file to make training data set.
  6. Run training on training data set.
  7. Combine data files.

The key differences are:

The training cannot be quite as automated as the training for 3.04 for several reasons:

Understanding the Various Files Used During Training

As with base Tesseract, the completed LSTM model and everything else it needs is collected in the traineddata file. Unlike base Tesseract, a starter traineddata file is given during training, and has to be setup in advance. It can contain:

Bold elements must be provided. Others are optional, but if any of the dawgs are provided, the punctuation dawg must also be provided. A new tool: combine_lang_model is provided to make a starter traineddata from a unicharset and optional wordlists.

During training, the trainer writes checkpoint files, which is a standard behavior for neural network trainers. This allows training to be stopped and continued again later if desired. Any checkpoint can be converted to a full traineddata for recognition by using the --stop_training command-line flag.

The trainer also periodically writes checkpoint files at new bests achieved during training.

It is possible to modify the network and retrain just part of it, or fine tune for specific training data (even with a modified unicharset!) by telling the trainer to --continue_from either an existing checkpoint file, or from a naked LSTM model file that has been extracted from an existing traineddata file using combine_tessdata provided it has not been converted to integer.

If the unicharset is changed in the --traineddata flag, compared to the one that was used in the model provided via --continue_from, then the --old_traineddata flag must be provided with the corresponding traineddata file that holds the unicharset and recoder. This enables the trainer to compute the mapping between the character sets.

The training data is provided via .lstmf files, which are serialized DocumentData They contain an image and the corresponding UTF8 text transcription, and can be generated from tif/box file pairs using Tesseract in a similar manner to the way .tr files were created for the old engine.

LSTMTraining Command Line

The lstmtraining program is a multi-purpose tool for training neural networks. The following table describes its command-line options:

Flag Type Default Explanation        
traineddata string none Path to the starter traineddata file that contains the unicharset, recoder and optional language model.        
net_spec string none Specifies the topology of the network.        
model_output string none Base path of output model files/checkpoints.        
max_image_MB int 6000 Maximum amount of memory to use for caching images. learning_rate double 10e-4 Initial learning rate for SGD algorithm.
sequential_training bool false Set to true for sequential training. Default is to process all training data in round-robin fashion.        
net_mode int 192 Flags from NetworkFlagsin network.h. Possible values: 128 for Adam optimization instead of momentum; 64 to allow different layers to have their own learning rates, discovered automatically.        
perfect_sample_delay int 0 When the network gets good, only backprop a perfect sample after this many imperfect samples have been seen since the last perfect sample was allowed through.        
debug_interval int 0 If non-zero, show visual debugging every this many iterations.        
weight_range double 0.1 Range of random values to initialize weights.        
momentum double 0.5 Momentum for alpha smoothing gradients.        
adam_beta double 0.999 Smoothing factor squared gradients in ADAM algorithm.        
max_iterations int 0 Stop training after this many iterations.        
target_error_rate double 0.01 Stop training if the mean percent error rate gets below this value.        
continue_from string none Path to previous checkpoint from which to continue training or fine tune.        
stop_training bool false Convert the training checkpoint in --continue_from to a recognition model.        
convert_to_int bool false With stop_training, convert to 8-bit integer for greater speed, with slightly less accuracy.        
append_index int -1 Cut the head off the network at the given index and append --net_spec network in place of the cut off part.        
train_listfile string none Filename of a file listing training data files.        
eval_listfile string none Filename of a file listing evaluation data files to be used in evaluating the model independently of the training data.        

Most of the flags work with defaults, and several are only required for particular operations listed below, but first some detailed comments on the more complex flags:

Unicharset Compression-recoding

LSTMs are great at learning sequences, but slow down a lot when the number of states is too large. There are empirical results that suggest it is better to ask an LSTM to learn a long sequence than a short sequence of many classes, so for the complex scripts, (Han, Hangul, and the Indic scripts) it is better to recode each symbol as a short sequence of codes from a small number of classes than have a large set of classes. The combine_lang_model command has this feature on by default. It encodes each Han character as a variable-length sequence of 1-5 codes, Hangul using the Jamo encoding as a sequence of 3 codes, and other scripts as a sequence of their unicode components. For the scripts that use a virama character to generate conjunct consonants, (All the Indic scripts plus Myanmar and Khmer) the function NormalizeCleanAndSegmentUTF8 pairs the virama with an appropriate neighbor to generate a more glyph-oriented encoding in the unicharset. To make full use of this improvement, the --pass_through_recoder flag should be set for combine_lang_model for these scripts.

Randomized Training Data and sequential_training

For Stochastic Gradient Descent to work properly, the training data is supposed to be randomly shuffled across all the sample files, so the trainer can read its way through each file in turn and go back to the first one when it reaches the end.

If using the rendering code, (via tesstrain.sh) then it will shuffle the sample text lines within each file, but you will get a set of files, each containing training samples from a single font. To add a more even mix, the default is to process one sample from each file in turn aka ‘round robin’ style. If you have generated training data some other way, or it is all from the same style (a handwritten manuscript book for instance) then you can use the --sequential_training flag for lstmtraining. This is more memory efficient since it will load data from only two files at a time, and process them in sequence. (The second file is read-ahead so it is ready when needed.)

Model output

The trainer saves checkpoints periodically using --model_output as a basename. It is therefore possible to stop training at any point, and restart it, using the same command line, and it will continue. To force a restart, use a different --model_output or delete all the files.

Net Mode and Optimization

The 128 flag turns on Adam optimization, which seems to work a lot better than plain momentum.

The 64 flag enables automatic layer-specific learning rate. When progress stalls, the trainer investigates which layer(s) should have their learning rate reduced independently, and may lower one or more learning rates to continue learning.

The default value of net_mode of 192 enables both Adam and layer-specific learning rates.

Here is a sample of messages seen in case of divergence, when learning rate is being reduced.


Iteration 8999: GROUND  TRUTH : . هريغ )9(فرعي ال ؛ ميملا رسكب » رخنم « و » رخنم « اولاق
Iteration 8999: BEST OCR TEXT : . هريغ )6(فرعي ال ؛ ميملا رسكب » رخنم « و » رخنم « اولاق
File /home/ubuntu/OCR_GS_Data/ara/AWN/book_IbnQutayba.Adab_7_final_200_000742.lstmf line 0 :
Mean rms=1.696%, delta=3.16%, train=113.332%(18.851%), skip ratio=0.1%
Warning: LSTMTrainer deserialized an LSTMRecognizer!
At iteration 7794/9000/9011, Mean rms=1.696%, delta=3.16%, char train=113.332%, word train=18.851%, skip ratio=0.1%,  New worst char error = 113.332At iteration 7507, stage 0, Eval Char error rate=5.4443537, Word error rate=16.233627
Divergence! Reverted to iteration 5870/6400/6408
Reduced learning rate to :0.00025000001
 wrote checkpoint.

Iteration 6400: GROUND  TRUTH : بيرق ناك اذإ »)1(ددعقو ددعق لجر « و ، هتصاخ : يأ » هللخدو نالف للخد«
File /home/ubuntu/OCR_GS_Data/ara/AWN/book_IbnQutayba.Adab_7_final_b_200_000438.lstmf line 0 (Perfect):
Mean rms=1.759%, delta=2.898%, train=62.442%(21.232%), skip ratio=0.2%
Iteration 6401: GROUND  TRUTH : . )1(هجيه ام ردق ىلع
Iteration 6401: ALIGNED TRUTH : . )1(هجيه ام ردق ىىلع
Iteration 6401: BEST OCR TEXT : . )1(هجيمه ام ردق مع

Perfect Sample Delay

Training on “easy” samples isn’t necessarily a good idea, as it is a waste of time, but the network shouldn’t be allowed to forget how to handle them, so it is possible to discard some easy samples if they are coming up too often. The --perfect_sample_delay argument discards perfect samples if there haven’t been that many imperfect ones seen since the last perfect sample. The current default value of zero uses all samples. In practice the value doesn’t seem to have a huge effect, and if training is allowed to run long enough, zero produces the best results.

Debug Interval and Visual Debugging

With zero (default) --debug_interval, the trainer outputs a progress report every 100 iterations, similar to the following example.

At iteration 61239/65000/65015, Mean rms=1.62%, delta=8.587%, char train=16.786%, word train=36.633%, skip ratio=0.1%,  wrote checkpoint.

At iteration 61332/65100/65115, Mean rms=1.601%, delta=8.347%, char train=16.497%, word train=36.24%, skip ratio=0.1%,  wrote checkpoint.

2 Percent improvement time=44606, best error was 17.77 @ 16817
Warning: LSTMTrainer deserialized an LSTMRecognizer!
At iteration 61423/65200/65215, Mean rms=1.559%, delta=7.841%, char train=15.7%, word train=35.68%, skip ratio=0.1%,  New best char error = 15.7At iteration 45481, stage 0, Eval Char error rate=6.9447893, Word error rate=27.039255 wrote best model:./SANLAYER/LAYER15.7_61423.checkpoint wrote checkpoint.

With --debug_interval -1, the trainer outputs verbose debug text for every training iteration. The text debug information includes the truth text, the recognized text, the iteration number, the training sample id (lstmf file and line) and the mean value of several error metrics. GROUND TRUTH for the line is displayed in all cases. ALIGNED TRUTH and BEST OCR TEXT are displayed only when different from the GROUND TRUTH.

Iteration 455038: GROUND  TRUTH : उप॑ त्वाग्ने दि॒वेदि॑वे॒ दोषा॑वस्तर्धि॒या व॒यम् ।
File /tmp/san-2019-03-28.jsY/san.Mangal.exp0.lstmf line 451 (Perfect):
Mean rms=1.267%, delta=4.155%, train=11.308%(32.421%), skip ratio=0%
Iteration 455039: GROUND  TRUTH : मे अपराध और बैठे दुकानों नाम सकते अधिवक्ता, दोबारा साधन विषैले लगाने पर प्रयोगकर्ताओं भागे
File /tmp/san-2019-04-04.H4m/san.FreeSerif.exp0.lstmf line 28 (Perfect):
Mean rms=1.267%, delta=4.153%, train=11.3%(32.396%), skip ratio=0%
Iteration 1526: GROUND  TRUTH : 𒃻 𒀸 𒆳𒆳 𒅘𒊏𒀀𒋾
Iteration 1526: ALIGNED TRUTH : 𒃻 𒀸 𒆳𒆳 𒅘𒊏𒊏𒀀𒋾
Iteration 1526: BEST OCR TEXT :    𒀀𒋾
File /tmp/eng-2019-04-06.Ieb/eng.CuneiformComposite.exp0.lstmf line 19587 :
Mean rms=0.941%, delta=12.319%, train=56.134%(99.965%), skip ratio=0.6%
Iteration 1527: GROUND  TRUTH : 𒀭𒌋𒐊
Iteration 1527: BEST OCR TEXT : 𒀭𒌋
File /tmp/eng-2019-04-06.Ieb/eng.CuneiformOB.exp0.lstmf line 7771 :
Mean rms=0.941%, delta=12.329%, train=56.116%(99.965%), skip ratio=0.6%

With --debug_interval > 0, the trainer displays several windows of debug information on the layers of the network. In the special case of --debug_interval 1 it waits for a click in the LSTMForward window before continuing to the next iteration, but for all others it just continues and draws information at the frequency requested.

NOTE that to use –debug_interval > 0 you must build ScrollView.jar as well as the other training tools. See Building the Training Tools

The visual debug information includes:

A forward and backward window for each network layer. Most are just random noise, but the Output/Output-back and ConvNL windows are worth viewing. Output shows the output of the final Softmax, which starts out as a yellow line for the null character, and gradually develops yellow marks at each point where it thinks there is a character. (The x-axis is the image x-coordinate, and the y-axis is character class.) The Output-back window shows the difference between the actual output and the target using the same layout, but with yellow for “give me more of this” and blue for “give me less of this”. As the network learns, the ConvNL window develops the typical edge detector results that you expect from the bottom layer.

LSTMForward shows the output of the whole network on the training image. LSTMTraining shows the training target on the training image. In both, green lines are drawn to show the peak output for each character, and the character itself is drawn to the right of the line.

The other two windows worth looking at are CTC Outputs and CTC Targets. These show the current output of the network and the targets as a line graph of strength of output against image x-coordinate. Instead of a heatmap, like the Output window, a different colored line is drawn for each character class and the y-axis is strength of output.

Iterations and Checkpoints

During the training we see this kind of information :

At iteration 100/100/100, Mean rms=4.514%, delta=19.089%, char train=96.314%, word train=100%, skip ratio=0%,  New best char error = 96.314 wrote checkpoint.
...
At iteration 14615/695400/698614, Mean rms=0.158%, delta=0.295%, char train=1.882%, word train=2.285%, skip ratio=0.4%,  wrote checkpoint.

In the above example,

14615 : learning_iteration
695400 : training_iteration
698614 : sample_iteration

sample_iteration : “Index into training sample set. (sample_iteration >= training_iteration).” It is how many times a training file has been passed into the learning process.

training_iteration : “Number of actual backward training steps used.” It is how many times a training file has been SUCCESSFULLY passed into the learning process. So every time you get an error : “Image too large to learn!!” - “Encoding of string failed!” - “Deserialize header failed”, the sample_iteration increments but not the training_iteration. Actually you have 1 - (695400 / 698614) = 0.4% which is the skip ratio : proportion of files that have been skipped because of an error

learning_iteration : “Number of iterations that yielded a non-zero delta error and thus provided significant learning. (learning_iteration <= training_iteration). learning_iteration_ is used to measure rate of learning progress.” So it uses the delta value to assess it the iteration has been useful.

What is good to know is that when you specify a maximum number of iterations to the training process it uses the middle iteration number (training_iteration) to know when to stop. But when it writes a checkpoint, the checkpoint name also uses the best iteration number (learning_iteration), along with the char train rate. So a checkpoint name is the concatenation of model_name & char_train & learning_iteration & training_iteration eg. sanLayer_1.754_347705_659600.checkpoint.

The lstmtraining program outputs two kinds of checkpoint files:

Either kind of these checkpoint files can be converted to a standard (best/float) traineddata file or slightly less accurate (fast/integer) traineddata file by using the stop_training and convert_to_int flags with lstmtraining.

TessTutorial

The process of Creating the training data is documented below, followed by a Tutorial guide to lstmtraining which gives an introduction to the main training process, with command-lines that have been tested for real. On Linux at least, you should be able to just copy-paste the command lines into your terminal.

To make the tesstrain.sh script work, it will be necessary to either set PATH to include your local training and api directories, or use make install.

One-time Setup for TessTutorial

In order to successfully run the TessTutorial, you need to have a working installation of tesseract and training tools and have the training scripts and required traineddata files in certain directories. These instructions only cover the case of rendering from fonts, so the needed fonts must be installed first. Note that your fonts location may vary.

sudo apt update
sudo apt install ttf-mscorefonts-installer
sudo apt install fonts-dejavu
fc-cache -vf

Follow the instructions below to do the first time setup for TessTutorial.

mkdir ~/tesstutorial
cd ~/tesstutorial

mkdir langdata
cd langdata
wget https://raw.githubusercontent.com/tesseract-ocr/langdata_lstm/master/radical-stroke.txt
wget https://raw.githubusercontent.com/tesseract-ocr/langdata_lstm/master/common.punc
wget https://raw.githubusercontent.com/tesseract-ocr/langdata_lstm/master/font_properties
wget https://raw.githubusercontent.com/tesseract-ocr/langdata_lstm/master/Latin.unicharset
wget https://raw.githubusercontent.com/tesseract-ocr/langdata_lstm/master/Latin.xheights
mkdir eng
cd eng
wget https://raw.githubusercontent.com/tesseract-ocr/langdata/master/eng/eng.training_text
wget https://raw.githubusercontent.com/tesseract-ocr/langdata/master/eng/eng.punc
wget https://raw.githubusercontent.com/tesseract-ocr/langdata/master/eng/eng.numbers
wget https://raw.githubusercontent.com/tesseract-ocr/langdata/master/eng/eng.wordlist

cd ~/tesstutorial
git clone --depth 1 https://github.com/tesseract-ocr/tesseract.git
cd tesseract/tessdata
wget https://github.com/tesseract-ocr/tessdata/raw/master/eng.traineddata
wget https://github.com/tesseract-ocr/tessdata/raw/master/osd.traineddata
mkdir best
cd best
wget https://github.com/tesseract-ocr/tessdata_best/raw/master/eng.traineddata
wget https://github.com/tesseract-ocr/tessdata_best/raw/master/heb.traineddata
wget https://github.com/tesseract-ocr/tessdata_best/raw/master/chi_sim.traineddata

Creating Training Data

As with base Tesseract, there is a choice between rendering synthetic training data from fonts, or labeling some pre-existing images (like ancient manuscripts for example).

In either case, the required format is still the tiff/box file pair, except that the boxes only need to cover a textline instead of individual characters.

If you use tesstrain.sh then required synthetic training data (box/tiff pairs and lstmf files) is created from the training text and given list of fonts.

Making Box Files

Multiple formats of box files are accepted by Tesseract 4 for LSTM training, though they are different from the one used by Tesseract 3 (details).

Each line in the box file matches a ‘character’ (glyph) in the tiff image.

<symbol> <left> <bottom> <right> <top> <page> Where <left> <bottom> <right> <top> <page> could be bounding-box coordinates of a single glyph or of a whole textline (see examples).

To mark an end-of-textline, a special line must be inserted after a series of lines.

<tab> <left> <bottom> <right> <top> <page>

Box files can be generated using Tesseract 4.0 using the lstmbox config from image data using tesseract <image name including extension> <box file name> lstmbox. For example, tesseract image.png image lstmbox will generate a box file with name image.box for the image in the current directory.

Note that in all cases, even for right-to-left languages, such as Arabic, the text transcription for the line, should be ordered left-to-right. In other words, the network is going to learn from left-to-right regardless of the language, and the right-to-left/bidi handling happens at a higher level inside Tesseract.

Using tesstrain.sh

The setup for running tesstrain.sh is the same as for base Tesseract. Use --linedata_only option for LSTM training. Note that it is beneficial to have more training text and make more pages though, as neural nets don’t generalize as well and need to train on something similar to what they will be running on. If the target domain is severely limited, then all the dire warnings about needing a lot of training data may not apply, but the network specification may need to be changed.

Training data is created using tesstrain.sh as follows:

src/training/tesstrain.sh --fonts_dir /usr/share/fonts --lang eng --linedata_only \
  --noextract_font_properties --langdata_dir ../langdata \
  --tessdata_dir ./tessdata --output_dir ~/tesstutorial/engtrain

And the following is printed out after a successful run:

Created starter traineddata for LSTM training of language 'eng'
Run 'lstmtraining' command to continue LSTM training for language 'eng'

The above command makes LSTM training data equivalent to the data used to train base Tesseract for English. For making a general-purpose LSTM-based OCR engine, it is woefully inadequate, but makes a good tutorial demo.

Now try this to make eval data for the ‘Impact’ font:

src/training/tesstrain.sh --fonts_dir /usr/share/fonts --lang eng --linedata_only \
  --noextract_font_properties --langdata_dir ../langdata \
  --tessdata_dir ./tessdata \
  --fontlist "Impact Condensed" --output_dir ~/tesstutorial/engeval

We will use that data later to demonstrate tuning.

Tutorial guide to lstmtraining

Creating Starter Traineddata

lstmtraining takes a traineddata file on its command-line, to obtain all the information it needs on the language to be learned. The traineddata must contain at least an lstm-unicharset and lstm-recoder component, and may also contain the three dawg files: lstm-punc-dawg lstm-word-dawg lstm-number-dawg A config file is also optional. The other components, if present, will be ignored and unused.

There is no tool to create the lstm-recoder directly. Instead there is a tool, combine_lang_model, which takes as input an input_unicharset and script_dir (script_dir points to the langdata directory) and lang (lang is the language being used) and optional word list files. It creates the lstm-recoder from the input_unicharset and creates all the dawgs, if wordlists are provided, putting everything together into a traineddata file.

If you use tesstrain.sh then the starter traineddata is also created along with synthetic training data (box/tiff pairs and lstmf files) from the training text and given list of fonts.

Training From Scratch

The following example shows the command line for training from scratch. Try it with the default training data created with the command-lines above.

mkdir -p ~/tesstutorial/engoutput
training/lstmtraining --debug_interval 100 \
  --traineddata ~/tesstutorial/engtrain/eng/eng.traineddata \
  --net_spec '[1,36,0,1 Ct3,3,16 Mp3,3 Lfys48 Lfx96 Lrx96 Lfx256 O1c111]' \
  --model_output ~/tesstutorial/engoutput/base --learning_rate 20e-4 \
  --train_listfile ~/tesstutorial/engtrain/eng.training_files.txt \
  --eval_listfile ~/tesstutorial/engeval/eng.training_files.txt \
  --max_iterations 5000 &>~/tesstutorial/engoutput/basetrain.log

(Note that “O1c111” in the net spec means 111 output classes; this should match the number of entries in the unicharset file.)

In a separate window monitor the log file:

tail -f ~/tesstutorial/engoutput/basetrain.log

You should observe that by 600 iterations, the spaces (white) are starting to show on the CTC Outputs window and by 1300 iterations green lines appear on the LSTMForward window where there are spaces in the image.

By 1300 iterations, there are noticeable non-space bumps in the CTC Outputs. Note that the CTC Targets, which started at all the same height are now varied in height because of the definite output for spaces and some and the tentative outputs for other characters. At the same time, the characters and positioning of the green lines in the LSTMTraining window are not as accurate as they were initially, because the partial output from the network confuses the CTC algorithm. (CTC assumes statistical independence between the different x-coordinates, but they are clearly not independent.)

By 2000 iterations, it should be clear on the Output window that some faint yellow marks are appearing to indicate that there is some growing output for non-null and non-space, and characters are starting to appear in the LSTMForward window.

The character error rate falls below 50% just after 3700 iterations, and by 5000 to about 13%, where it will terminate. (In about 20 minutes on a current high-end machine with AVX.)

Note that this engine is trained on the same amount of training data as used by the legacy Tesseract engine, but its accuracy on other fonts is probably very poor. Run an independent test on the ‘Impact’ font:

training/lstmeval --model ~/tesstutorial/engoutput/base_checkpoint \
  --traineddata ~/tesstutorial/engtrain/eng/eng.traineddata \
  --eval_listfile ~/tesstutorial/engeval/eng.training_files.txt

85% character error rate? Not so good!

Now base Tesseract doesn’t do very well on ‘Impact’, but it is included in the 4500 or so fonts used to train the new LSTM version, so if you can run on that for a comparison:

training/lstmeval --model tessdata/best/eng.traineddata \
  --eval_listfile ~/tesstutorial/engeval/eng.training_files.txt

2.45% character error rate? Much better!

For reference in the next section, also run a test of the full model on the training set that we have been using:

training/lstmeval --model tessdata/best/eng.traineddata \
  --eval_listfile ~/tesstutorial/engtrain/eng.training_files.txt

Char error rate=0.25047642, Word error rate=0.63389585

You can train for another 5000 iterations, and get the error rate on the training set a lot lower, but it doesn’t help the Impact font much:

mkdir -p ~/tesstutorial/engoutput
training/lstmtraining \
  --traineddata ~/tesstutorial/engtrain/eng/eng.traineddata \
  --net_spec '[1,36,0,1 Ct3,3,16 Mp3,3 Lfys48 Lfx96 Lrx96 Lfx256 O1c111]' \
  --model_output ~/tesstutorial/engoutput/base --learning_rate 20e-4 \
  --train_listfile ~/tesstutorial/engtrain/eng.training_files.txt \
  --eval_listfile ~/tesstutorial/engeval/eng.training_files.txt \
  --max_iterations 10000 &>>~/tesstutorial/engoutput/basetrain.log

Character error rate on Impact now >100%, even as the error rate on the training set has fallen to 2.68% character / 10.01% word:

training/lstmeval --model ~/tesstutorial/engoutput/base_checkpoint \
  --traineddata ~/tesstutorial/engtrain/eng/eng.traineddata \
  --eval_listfile ~/tesstutorial/engeval/eng.training_files.txt

This shows that the model has completely over-fitted to the supplied training set! It is an excellent illustration of what happens when the training set doesn’t cover the desired variation in the target data.

In summary, training from scratch needs either a very constrained problem, a lot of training data, or you need to shrink the network by reducing some of the sizes of the layers in the --net_spec above. Alternatively, you could try fine tuning…

Fine Tuning for Impact

Please note that Fine Tuning for Impact can be done ONLY by using float models as the base to continue from i.e. use the traineddata files from tessdata_best repo not from tessdata or tessdata_fast.

Fine tuning is the process of training an existing model on new data without changing any part of the network, although you can now add characters to the character set. (See Fine Tuning for ± a few characters).

training/lstmtraining --model_output /path/to/output [--max_image_MB 6000] \
  --continue_from /path/to/existing/model \
  --traineddata /path/to/original/traineddata \
  [--perfect_sample_delay 0] [--debug_interval 0] \
  [--max_iterations 0] [--target_error_rate 0.01] \
  --train_listfile /path/to/list/of/filenames.txt

Note that the --continue_from arg can point to a training checkpoint or a recognition model, even though the file formats are different. Training checkpoints are the files that begin with --model_output and end in checkpoint. A recognition model can be extracted from an existing traineddata file, using combine_tessdata. Note that it is also necessary to supply the original traineddata file as well, as that contains the unicharset and recoder. Let’s start by fine tuning the model we built earlier, and see if we can make it work for ‘Impact’:

mkdir -p ~/tesstutorial/impact_from_small
training/lstmtraining --model_output ~/tesstutorial/impact_from_small/impact \
  --continue_from ~/tesstutorial/engoutput/base_checkpoint \
  --traineddata ~/tesstutorial/engtrain/eng/eng.traineddata \
  --train_listfile ~/tesstutorial/engeval/eng.training_files.txt \
  --max_iterations 1200

This has character/word error at 22.36%/50.0% after 100 iterations and gets down to 0.3%/1.2% at 1200. Now a stand-alone test:

training/lstmeval --model ~/tesstutorial/impact_from_small/impact_checkpoint \
  --traineddata ~/tesstutorial/engtrain/eng/eng.traineddata \
  --eval_listfile ~/tesstutorial/engeval/eng.training_files.txt

That shows a better result of 0.0086%/0.057% because the trainer is averaging over 1000 iterations, and it has been improving. This isn’t a representative result for the Impact font though, as we are testing on the training data!

That was a bit of a toy example. The idea of fine tuning is really to apply it to one of the fully-trained existing models:

mkdir -p ~/tesstutorial/impact_from_full
training/combine_tessdata -e tessdata/best/eng.traineddata \
  ~/tesstutorial/impact_from_full/eng.lstm
training/lstmtraining --model_output ~/tesstutorial/impact_from_full/impact \
  --continue_from ~/tesstutorial/impact_from_full/eng.lstm \
  --traineddata tessdata/best/eng.traineddata \
  --train_listfile ~/tesstutorial/engeval/eng.training_files.txt \
  --max_iterations 400

After 100 iterations, it has 1.35%/4.56% char/word error and gets down to 0.533%/1.633% at 400. Again, the stand-alone test gives a better result:

training/lstmeval --model ~/tesstutorial/impact_from_full/impact_checkpoint \
  --traineddata tessdata/best/eng.traineddata \
  --eval_listfile ~/tesstutorial/engeval/eng.training_files.txt

Char error 0.017%, word 0.120% What is more interesting though, is the effect on the other fonts, so run a test on the base training set that we have been using:

training/lstmeval --model ~/tesstutorial/impact_from_full/impact_checkpoint \
  --traineddata tessdata/best/eng.traineddata \
  --eval_listfile ~/tesstutorial/engtrain/eng.training_files.txt

Char error rate=0.25548592, Word error rate=0.82523491

It is only slightly worse, despite having reached close to zero error on the training set, and achieved it in only 400 iterations. Note that further training beyond 400 iterations makes the error on the base set higher.

In summary, the pre-trained model can be fine-tuned or adapted to a small data set, without doing a lot of harm to its general accuracy. It is still very important however, to avoid over-fitting.

Fine Tuning for ± a few characters

Please note that Fine Tuning for ± a few characters can be done ONLY by using float models as the base to continue from i.e. use the traineddata files from tessdata_best repo not from tessdata or tessdata_fast.

New feature It is possible to add a few new characters to the character set and train for them by fine tuning, without a large amount of training data.

The training requires a new unicharset/recoder, optional language models, and the old traineddata file containing the old unicharset/recoder.

training/lstmtraining --model_output /path/to/output [--max_image_MB 6000] \
  --continue_from /path/to/existing/model \
  --traineddata /path/to/traineddata/with/new/unicharset \
  --old_traineddata /path/to/existing/traineddata \
  [--perfect_sample_delay 0] [--debug_interval 0] \
  [--max_iterations 0] [--target_error_rate 0.01] \
  --train_listfile /path/to/list/of/filenames.txt

Let’s try adding the plus-minus sign (±) to the existing English model. Modify langdata/eng/eng.training_text to include some samples of ±. I inserted 14 of them, as shown below:

grep ± ../langdata/eng/eng.training_text
alkoxy of LEAVES ±1.84% by Buying curved RESISTANCE MARKED Your (Vol. SPANIEL
TRAVELED ±85¢ , reliable Events THOUSANDS TRADITIONS. ANTI-US Bedroom Leadership
Inc. with DESIGNS self; ball changed. MANHATTAN Harvey's ±1.31 POPSET Os—C(11)
VOLVO abdomen, ±65°C, AEROMEXICO SUMMONER = (1961) About WASHING Missouri
PATENTSCOPE® # © HOME SECOND HAI Business most COLETTI, ±14¢ Flujo Gilbert
Dresdner Yesterday's Dilated SYSTEMS Your FOUR ±90° Gogol PARTIALLY BOARDS firm
Email ACTUAL QUEENSLAND Carl's Unruly ±8.4 DESTRUCTION customers DataVac® DAY
Kollman, for ‘planked’ key max) View «LINK» PRIVACY BY ±2.96% Ask! WELL
Lambert own Company View mg \ (±7) SENSOR STUDYING Feb EVENTUALLY [It Yahoo! Tv
United by #DEFINE Rebel PERFORMED ±500Gb Oliver Forums Many | ©2003-2008 Used OF
Avoidance Moosejaw pm* ±18 note: PROBE Jailbroken RAISE Fountains Write Goods (±6)
Oberflachen source.” CULTURED CUTTING Home 06-13-2008, § ±44.01189673355 €
netting Bookmark of WE MORE) STRENGTH IDENTICAL ±2? activity PROPERTY MAINTAINED

Now generate new training and eval data:

src/training/tesstrain.sh --fonts_dir /usr/share/fonts --lang eng --linedata_only \
  --noextract_font_properties --langdata_dir ../langdata \
  --tessdata_dir ./tessdata --output_dir ~/tesstutorial/trainplusminus
src/training/tesstrain.sh --fonts_dir /usr/share/fonts --lang eng --linedata_only \
  --noextract_font_properties --langdata_dir ../langdata \
  --tessdata_dir ./tessdata \
  --fontlist "Impact Condensed" --output_dir ~/tesstutorial/evalplusminus

Run fine tuning on the new training data. This requires more iterations, as it only has a few samples of the new target character to go on:

training/combine_tessdata -e tessdata/best/eng.traineddata \
  ~/tesstutorial/trainplusminus/eng.lstm
training/lstmtraining --model_output ~/tesstutorial/trainplusminus/plusminus \
  --continue_from ~/tesstutorial/trainplusminus/eng.lstm \
  --traineddata ~/tesstutorial/trainplusminus/eng/eng.traineddata \
  --old_traineddata tessdata/best/eng.traineddata \
  --train_listfile ~/tesstutorial/trainplusminus/eng.training_files.txt \
  --max_iterations 3600

After 100 iterations, it has 1.26%/3.98% char/word error and gets down to 0.041%/0.185% at 3600. Again, the stand-alone test gives a better result:

training/lstmeval --model ~/tesstutorial/trainplusminus/plusminus_checkpoint \
  --traineddata ~/tesstutorial/trainplusminus/eng/eng.traineddata \
  --eval_listfile ~/tesstutorial/trainplusminus/eng.training_files.txt

Char error 0.0326%, word 0.128%. What is more interesting though, is whether the new character can be recognized in the ‘Impact’ font, so run a test on the impact eval set:

training/lstmeval --model ~/tesstutorial/trainplusminus/plusminus_checkpoint \
  --traineddata ~/tesstutorial/trainplusminus/eng/eng.traineddata \
  --eval_listfile ~/tesstutorial/evalplusminus/eng.training_files.txt

Char error rate=2.3767074, Word error rate=8.3829474

This compares very well against the original test of the original model on the impact data set. Furthermore, if you check the errors:

training/lstmeval --model ~/tesstutorial/trainplusminus/plusminus_checkpoint \
  --traineddata ~/tesstutorial/trainplusminus/eng/eng.traineddata \
  --eval_listfile ~/tesstutorial/evalplusminus/eng.training_files.txt 2>&1 |
  grep ±

…you should see that it gets all the ± signs correct! (Every truth line that contains a ± also contains a ± on the corresponding OCR line, and there are no truth lines that don’t have a matching OCR line in the grep output.)

This is excellent news! It means that one or more new characters can be added without impacting existing accuracy, and the ability to recognize the new character will, to some extent at least, generalize to other fonts!

NOTE: When fine tuning, it is important to experiment with the number of iterations, since excessive training on a small data set will cause over-fitting. ADAM, is great for finding the feature combinations necessary to get that rare class correct, but it does seem to overfit more than simpler optimizers.

Training Just a Few Layers

Please note that Training Just a Few Layers can be done ONLY by using float models as the base to continue from i.e. use the traineddata files from tessdata_best repo not from tessdata or tessdata_fast.

Fine tuning is OK if you only want to add a new font style or need a couple of new characters, but what if you want to train for Klingon? You are unlikely to have much training data and it is unlike anything else, so what do you do? You can try removing some of the top layers of an existing network model, replace some of them with new randomized layers, and train with your data. The command-line is mostly the same as Training from scratch, but in addition you have to provide a model to --continue_from and --append_index.

The --append_index argument tells it to remove all layers above the layer with the given index, (starting from zero, in the outermost series) and then append the given --net_spec argument to what remains. Although this indexing system isn’t a perfect way of referring to network layers, it is a consequence of the greatly simplified network specification language. The builder will output a string corresponding to the network it has generated, making it reasonably easy to check that the index referred to the intended layer.

A new feature of 4.00 alpha is that combine_tessdata can list the content of a traineddata file and its version string. In most cases, the version string includes the net_spec that was used to train:

training/combine_tessdata -d tessdata/best/heb.traineddata
Version string:4.00.00alpha:heb:synth20170629:[1,36,0,1Ct3,3,16Mp3,3Lfys48Lfx96Lrx96Lfx192O1c1]
17:lstm:size=3022651, offset=192
18:lstm-punc-dawg:size=3022651, offset=3022843
19:lstm-word-dawg:size=673826, offset=3024221
20:lstm-number-dawg:size=625, offset=3698047
21:lstm-unicharset:size=1673826, offset=3703368
22:lstm-recoder:size=4023, offset=3703368
23:version:size=80, offset=3703993

and for chi_sim:

training/combine_tessdata -d tessdata/best/chi_sim.traineddata
Version string:4.00.00alpha:chi_sim:synth20170629:[1,48,0,1Ct3,3,16Mp3,3Lfys64Lfx96Lrx96Lfx512O1c1]
0:config:size=1966, offset=192
17:lstm:size=12152851, offset=2158
18:lstm-punc-dawg:size=282, offset=12155009
19:lstm-word-dawg:size=590634, offset=12155291
20:lstm-number-dawg:size=82, offset=12745925
21:lstm-unicharset:size=258834, offset=12746007
22:lstm-recoder:size=72494, offset=13004841
23:version:size=84, offset=13077335

Note that the number of layers is the same, but only the sizes differ. Therefore in these models, the following values of --append_index will keep the associated last layer, and append above:

Index Layer
0 Input
1 Ct3,3,16
2 Mp3,3
3 Lfys48/64
4 Lfx96
5 Lrx96
6 Lfx192/512

The weights in the remaining part of the existing model are unchanged initially, but allowed to be modified by the new training data.

As an example, let’s try converting the existing chi_sim model to eng. We will cut off the last LSTM layer (which was bigger for chi_sim than the one used to train the eng model) and the softmax, replacing with a smaller LSTM layer and a new softmax:

mkdir -p ~/tesstutorial/eng_from_chi
training/combine_tessdata -e tessdata/best/chi_sim.traineddata \
  ~/tesstutorial/eng_from_chi/eng.lstm
training/lstmtraining --debug_interval 100 \
  --continue_from ~/tesstutorial/eng_from_chi/eng.lstm \
  --traineddata ~/tesstutorial/engtrain/eng/eng.traineddata \
  --append_index 5 --net_spec '[Lfx256 O1c111]' \
  --model_output ~/tesstutorial/eng_from_chi/base \
  --train_listfile ~/tesstutorial/engtrain/eng.training_files.txt \
  --eval_listfile ~/tesstutorial/engeval/eng.training_files.txt \
  --max_iterations 3000 &>~/tesstutorial/eng_from_chi/basetrain.log

Since the lower layers are already trained, this learns somewhat faster than training from scratch. At 600 iterations, it suddenly starts producing output and by 800, it is already getting most characters correct. By the time it stops at 3000 iterations, it should be at 6.00% character/22.42% word.

Try the usual tests on the full training set:

training/lstmeval --model ~/tesstutorial/eng_from_chi/base_checkpoint \
  --traineddata ~/tesstutorial/engtrain/eng/eng.traineddata \
  --eval_listfile ~/tesstutorial/engtrain/eng.training_files.txt

and independent test on the Impact font:

training/lstmeval --model ~/tesstutorial/eng_from_chi/base_checkpoint \
  --traineddata ~/tesstutorial/engtrain/eng/eng.traineddata \
  --eval_listfile ~/tesstutorial/engeval/eng.training_files.txt

On the full training set, we get 5.557%/20.43% and on Impact 36.67%/83.23%, which is much better than the from-scratch training, but is still badly over-fitted.

In summary, it is possible to cut off the top layers of an existing network and train, as if from scratch, but a fairly large amount of training data is still required to avoid over-fitting.

Error Messages From Training

There are various error messages that can occur when running the training, some of which can be important, and others not so much:

Encoding of string failed! results when the text string for a training image cannot be encoded using the given unicharset. Possible causes are:

  1. There is an un-represented character in the text, say a British Pound sign that is not in your unicharset.
  2. A stray unprintable character (like tab or a control character) in the text.
  3. There is an un-represented Indic grapheme/aksara in the text.

In any case it will result in that training image being ignored by the trainer. If the error is infrequent, it is harmless, but it may indicate that your unicharset is inadequate for representing the language that you are training.

Unichar xxx is too long to encode!! (Most likely Indic only). There is an upper limit to the length of unicode characters that can be used in the recoder, which simplifies the unicharset for the LSTM engine. It will just continue and leave that Aksara out of the recognizable set, but if there are a lot, then you are in trouble.

Bad box coordinates in boxfile string! The LSTM trainer only needs bounding box information for a complete textline, instead of at a character level, but if you put spaces in the box string, like this:

<text for line including spaces> <left> <bottom> <right> <top> <page>

the parser will be confused and give you the error message.

Deserialize header failed occurs when a training input is not in LSTM format or the file is not readable. Check your filelist file to see if it contains valid filenames.

No block overlapping textline: occurs when layout analysis fails to correctly segment the image that was given as training data. The textline is dropped. Not much problem if there aren’t many, but if there are a lot, there is probably something wrong with the training text or rendering process.

<Undecodable> can occur in either the ALIGNED_TRUTH or OCR TEXT output early in training. It is a consequence of unicharset compression and CTC training. (See Unicharset Compression and train_mode above). This should be harmless and can be safely ignored. Its frequency should fall as training progresses.

Combining the Output Files

The lstmtraining program outputs two kinds of checkpoint files:

Either of these files can be converted to a standard traineddata file as follows:

training/lstmtraining --stop_training \
  --continue_from ~/tesstutorial/eng_from_chi/base_checkpoint \
  --traineddata ~/tesstutorial/engtrain/eng/eng.traineddata \
  --model_output ~/tesstutorial/eng_from_chi/eng.traineddata

This will extract the recognition model from the training dump, and insert it into the –traineddata argument, along with the unicharset, recoder, and any dawgs that were provided during training.

NOTE Tesseract 4.00 will now run happily with a traineddata file that contains just lang.lstm, lang.lstm-unicharset and lang.lstm-recoder. The lstm-*-dawgs are optional, and none of the other components are required or used with OEM_LSTM_ONLY as the OCR engine mode. No bigrams, unichar ambigs or any of the other components are needed or even have any effect if present. The only other component that does anything is the lang.config, which can affect layout analysis, and sub-languages.

If added to an existing Tesseract traineddata file, the lstm-unicharset doesn’t have to match the Tesseract unicharset, but the same unicharset must be used to train the LSTM and build the lstm-*-dawgs files.

The Hallucination Effect

If you notice that your model is misbehaving, for example by:

Then read the hallucination topic.