Rich-text Document Styling Restoration via Reinforcement Learning

Published in Frontiers of Computer Science, 2020

Recommended citation: Hongwei Li, Yingpeng Hu, Yixuan Cao, Ganbin Zhou, and Ping Luo. Rich-text Document Styling Restoration via Reinforcement Learning. Frontiers of Computer Science, 2020.

Richly formatted documents, such as financial disclosures, scientific articles, government regulations, widely exist on Web. However, since most of these documents are only for public reading, the styling information inside them is usually missing, making them improper or even burdensome to be displayed and edited in different formats and platforms. In this study we formulate the task of document styling restoration as an optimization problem, which aims to identify the styling settings on the document elements, e.g. lines, table cells, text, so that rendering with the output styling settings results in a document, where each element inside it holds the (closely) exact position with the one in the original document. Considering that each styling setting is a decision, this problem can be transformed as a multi-step decision-making task over all the document elements, and then be solved by reinforcement learning. Specifically, Monte-Carlo Tree Search (MCTS) is leveraged to explore the different styling settings, and the policy function is learnt under the supervision of the delayed rewards. As a case study, we restore the styling information inside tables, where structural and functional data in the documents are usually presented. Experiment shows that, our best reinforcement method successfully restores the stylings in 87.65% of the tables, with 25.75% absolute improvement over the greedy method. We also discuss the tradeoff between the inference time and restoration success rate, and argue that although the reinforcement methods cannot be used in real-time scenarios, it is suitable for the offline tasks with high-quality requirement. Finally, this model has been applied in a PDF parser to support cross-format display.

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