Machine Learning for Unstructured Document Analysis: a guide
What is unstructured document layout analysis? How unstructured document impact the training process of your ML model? Here are your answers.
Unstructured Document and Unstructured Document Analysis: Definition
Unstructured document layout analysis is a field of artificial intelligence that focuses on understanding the content of documents that don't have a pre-defined format, such as PDFs or scanned images. AI methods are used to analyze the layout of these documents and identify different elements, such as text, images, and tables. This can help computers to understand and process the information contained in the documents more easily. For example, an AI system could be used to automatically extract data from invoices and other business documents, making it easier for companies to manage their finances.
What are unstructured documents?
Unstructured documents are a type of textual data in machine learning that lack a specific structure or format, making them difficult to analyze with traditional algorithms. Unlike structured data, which is organized in a predetermined manner, unstructured documents can take many forms, such as emails, social media posts, news articles, or handwritten notes. This lack of structure challenges machine learning models that rely on structured data inputs to produce accurate results. However, advancements in natural language processing (NLP) have made it possible to extract valuable insights from unstructured documents, making them an essential part of many data analysis and decision-making processes.
What is unstructured document analysis?
Unstructured document analysis refers to the process of analyzing unstructured textual data to extract valuable insights and patterns. This analysis is conducted using advanced techniques such as natural language processing (NLP) and machine learning algorithms that can automatically identify and extract relevant information, such as entities, sentiments, topics, and relationships between different pieces of information. By analyzing unstructured documents, organizations can gain valuable insights into customer opinions and preferences, industry trends, and other important information that can inform strategic decisions. Unstructured document analysis is becoming increasingly important in today's data-driven world, as the volume of unstructured data continues to grow rapidly, making it difficult to extract valuable insights without the help of advanced analytical tools.
Data-centric AI and unstructured document analysis
How Machine Learning and data-centric AI can be used to analyze unstructured documents
Data-centric AI is a method of managing and processing data where the focus is on the data itself and its lifecycle. When data-centric AI is at use for document analysis purposes, it generally involves the following steps:
1. Data acquisition: The first step is to acquire the unstructured documents that will be analyzed. This can be done by using web scraping tools to collect data from websites or by manually gathering documents from various sources. See our dedicated article on the matter.
2. Data cleaning: Once the documents are acquired, they must be cleaned to remove any irrelevant or duplicate information. This step also involves identifying and removing any sensitive or confidential data.
3. Data preprocessing: Next, the data needs to be preprocessed to make it suitable for analysis. This step typically includes tasks such as tokenization, stemming, and lemmatization to transform the data into a structured format.
4. Data transformation: After preprocessing, the data needs to be transformed into a format that can be easily analyzed. This step may involve techniques such as term frequency-inverse document frequency (TF-IDF).
5. Model Training: Train your model with your data
6. Model Deployment: Deploy the model on production
7. Error analysis: Analyse errors in data to improve the dataset
Examples of applications where Machine Learning and data-centric AI can be used for unstructured document analysis
AI systems can be trained to extract insights from large volumes of unstructured data. Thus, they can be handy in analyzing unstructured documents.
For example, it can help by extracting specific data points or patterns, classifying documents into specific categories, detecting anomalies and outliers, and even generating summaries of the documents.
By using AI algorithms trained with data-centric AI workflows, focusing on data quality, organizations can gain much deeper insights from unstructured documents than they could use traditional model-focused methods.
Annotation for unstructured document analysis
Data annotation: what it is, and why does it matter for unstructured document analysis?
Data labeling is the process of labeling data points with relevant tags, categorizing data into predefined classes, or adding additional context or metadata to the data. In the context of unstructured document analysis, data annotation can identify key terms, phrases, or entities within the documents and classify them into predetermined categories based on their content.
While data annotation makes it easier for unsupervised machine learning algorithms to understand and learn from their dataset, it’s a mandatory step of any supervised machine learning algorithm.
Data annotation matters for unstructured document analysis because it helps structure and organizes the data in a more easily understood and analyzed way by machine learning algorithms. Machine learning algorithms may have difficulty extracting meaningful insights from unstructured data without proper data annotation, which can lead to poor performance and inaccurate results. Properly annotating the data can help to train the machine learning models more effectively and improve their performance on tasks such as sentiment analysis, document classification, and language translation.
How data annotation can improve the performance of unstructured document analysis algorithms
In order to aim for high-quality training data that accurately represents the real-world data to which the algorithm will be applied, one must adequately annotate the dataset. By doing so, you're likely to improve feature engineering by identifying key features within the data. You're also likely to improve generalization through diverse and representative datasets and increase the interpretability of the results by adding context and metadata to the data. Overall, data annotation is an essential factor in the performance and accuracy of machine learning algorithms for unstructured document analysis.
Examples of common techniques for annotating unstructured documents
Several techniques can be used to annotate unstructured documents that will train machine learning algorithms. These techniques include:
Labeling: Attaching tags or labels to specific data points within the document can provide additional context and meaning, which can be helpful for training machine learning models.
Named entity recognition: Identifying and labeling specific entities within the document, such as names of people or organizations, can be used for extracting structured data from unstructured documents.
Part-of-speech tagging: Identifying and labeling the part of speech of each word within the document can provide additional context and meaning, which can be useful for natural language processing tasks.
Stemming: Reducing words to their base form by removing suffixes and inflections can reduce the dimensionality of the data and improve the performance of machine learning algorithms.
Tokenization: Breaking a document down into individual tokens or "words" can be useful for many different natural language processing tasks, such as language translation and text classification.
Machine learning for unstructured document analysis
Machine learning algorithms and automatic analysis of the structure and content of unstructured documents
Machine learning algorithms can be used in many ways. Automatically analyzing the structure and content of unstructured documents is one of them. One such method is text mining, which involves using natural language processing (NLP) and text mining techniques to extract structured data from unstructured documents. This can include extracting key terms, phrases, or entities from the documents and identifying relationships between different data points. Text mining can help to uncover hidden patterns and trends within the data, providing valuable insights that might not be immediately apparent.
Another way machine learning algorithms can analyze unstructured documents is through sentiment analysis. This analysis involves using machine learning algorithms to identify the sentiment expressed in the documents, such as whether the sentiment is positive, negative, or neutral. Sentiment analysis can be helpful for tasks such as gauging customer sentiment or identifying trends in public opinion. By analyzing the sentiment expressed in unstructured documents, it is possible to gain a better understanding of how people feel about a particular topic or product.
Document classification is another technique that can automatically analyze the structure and content of unstructured documents. This involves using machine learning algorithms to classify documents into predetermined categories based on their content. This technique can be useful for organizing large volumes of documents or identifying documents relevant to a specific topic. Document classification can be performed using a variety of machine learning algorithms, such as support vector machines (SVMs) or k-nearest neighbors (k-NN).
Language translation is another area where machine learning algorithms can automatically analyze unstructured documents. By training machine learning models on large datasets of the translated text, it is possible to build algorithms that automatically translate documents from one language to another. This can be useful for analyzing documents in different target languages.
Examples of common techniques for annotating unstructured documents
Several techniques can be used to annotate unstructured documents. Annotation consists of attaching tags or labels to specific data points within the document can provide additional context and meaning, which can be helpful for training machine learning models. Different annotation possibilities can be:
Named entity recognition: It involves identifying and categorizing named entities in text into predefined categories such as person names, locations, organizations, time expressions, and numerical expressions.
Part-of-speech tagging: It involves assigning grammatical tags to words in a sentence based on their role and function within the sentence, such as nouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs, prepositions, conjunctions, and interjections.
Page segmentation: This involves dividing the document into regions or segments, such as header, footer, main text, and images. The annotation may indicate the boundaries of each region and the type of content within each region.
Text block detection: This involves identifying blocks of text, such as paragraphs or bullet points, and their corresponding locations. The annotation may indicate the start and end points of each block and the type of block (e.g., paragraph, list item).
Document structure: This involves identifying the hierarchical structure of the document, such as chapters, sections, and subsections. The annotation may indicate the title, level, and location of each section.
Table and figure detection: This involves identifying tables and figures within the document. The annotation may indicate the location, size, and type of each table or figure.
Machine learning for unstructured document analysis: pros and cons
One of the main benefits of using machine learning for unstructured document analysis is its efficiency. Machine learning algorithms can process large volumes of data quickly and accurately, making it possible to analyze large datasets in a relatively short amount of time. These enhanced processing capabilities can be especially useful for organizations that need to regularly analyze large volumes of data, as it can save time and resources compared to manual analysis.
Another benefit of machine learning for unstructured document analysis is the accuracy it can provide. When trained on high-quality data, machine learning algorithms can be highly accurate, reducing errors and improving the reliability of the results. Data quality can be especially important for tasks such as sentiment analysis, where even minor errors can have significant consequences.
.Scalability is another advantage of using machine learning for unstructured document analysis. Machine learning algorithms can be easily scaled up to handle larger datasets, making it possible to analyze larger volumes of data as needed. Scalability can be particularly useful for organizations that need to analyze data from multiple sources or are likely to encounter an increase in the volume of data they need to label.
Automation is another benefit of machine learning for unstructured document analysis. Machine learning algorithms can be automated, enabling tasks such as document classification or sentiment analysis without requiring manual intervention. By reducing the risk of human error, automation can save time and resources while also improving the accuracy and reliability of the results.
Using machine learning for unstructured document analysis can be challenging due to several factors. One of the main challenges is ensuring the quality of the data being used. Machine learning algorithms are only as effective as the data they are trained on, so it is vital to ensure that the data is high quality and accurately represents the real-world data to which the algorithm will be applied. If the data is of poor quality or is biased, it can negatively impact the accuracy and reliability of the results – which data-centric approach even more important to adopt.
Another challenge is the need for data annotation and structuring. Unstructured documents often need to be correctly annotated and structured for machine learning algorithms, which can be time-consuming and resource-intensive. This challenge is particularly prominent in large datasets or datasets with complex structures.
Interpretability also represents a challenge for some machine learning algorithms, particularly deep learning algorithms. These algorithms can be challenging to interpret and understand, making it difficult to explain their decision-making processes. Therefore, interpretability can be an issue for organizations that need to understand the reasoning behind the predictions made by the algorithms.
Last but not least: bias. Bias is indeed another potential challenge when using machine learning for unstructured document analysis. Machine learning algorithms can be prone to bias if the data they are trained on is biased. It is essential to carefully consider the data sources and ensure that it is representative and unbiased to avoid introducing bias to the results.
Key takeaways on unstructured document analysis
Unstructured document analysis, annotation, and data-centric AI
Unstructured document analysis is made easier by data-centric AI and annotation.
When training your ML model for unstructured document analysis, it’s important to bear in mind how tedious and complex the average labeling task can be. That’s why adopting data-centric AI has an important part to play in unstructured document analysis.
As it enables you to focus on better quality annotations rather than extensive datasets to train your model, it will likely have a very noticeable impact on your model to production time.