Large data collections containing millions of math formulae in different formats are available on-line. Retrieving math expressions from these collections is challenging. We propose a framework for retrieval of mathematical notation using symbol pairs extracted from visual and semantic representations of mathematical expressions on the symbolic domain for retrieval of text documents. We further adapt our model for retrieval of mathematical notation on images and lecture videos. Graph-based representations are used on each modality to describe math formulas. For symbolic formula retrieval, where the structure is known, we use symbol layout trees and operator trees. For image-based formula retrieval, since the structure is unknown we use a more general Line of Sight graph representation. Paths of these graphs define symbol pairs tuples that are used as the entries for our inverted index of mathematical notation. Our retrieval framework uses a three-stage approach with a fast selection of candidates as the first layer, a more detailed matching algorithm with similarity metric computation in the second stage, and finally when relevance assessments are available, we use an optional third layer with linear regression for estimation of relevance using multiple similarity scores for final re-ranking. Our model has been evaluated using large collections of documents, and preliminary results are presented for videos and cross-modal search. The proposed framework can be adapted for other domains like chemistry or technical diagrams where two visually similar elements from a collection are usually related to each other.

Publication Date


Document Type


Student Type


Degree Name

Computing and Information Sciences (Ph.D.)


Richard Zanibbi

Advisor/Committee Member

Stephanie Ludi

Advisor/Committee Member

Daniel B. Phillips


RIT – Main Campus