Despite the significant progress in automatic speech recognition (ASR), distant ASR remains challenging due to noise and reverberation. A common approach to mitigate this issue consists of equipping the recording devices with multiple microphones that capture the acoustic scene from different perspectives. These multi-channel audio recordings contain specific internal relations between each signal. In this paper, we propose to capture these inter- and intra- structural dependencies with quaternion neural networks, which can jointly process multiple signals as whole quaternion entities. The quaternion algebra replaces the standard dot product with the Hamilton one, thus offering a simple and elegant way to model dependencies between elements. The quaternion layers are then coupled with a recurrent neural network, which can learn long-term dependencies in the time domain. We show that a quaternion long-short term memory neural network (QLSTM), trained on the concatenated multi-channel speech signals, outperforms equivalent real-valued LSTM on two different tasks of multi-channel distant speech recognition.
Online speech recognition is crucial for developing natural human-machine interfaces. This modality, however, is significantly more challenging than off-line ASR, since real-time/low-latency constraints inevitably hinder the use of future information, that is known to be very helpful to perform robust predictions. A popular solution to mitigate this issue consists of feeding neural acoustic models with context windows that gather some future frames. This introduces a latency which depends on the number of employed look-ahead features. This paper explores a different approach, based on estimating the future rather than waiting for it. Our technique encourages the hidden representations of a unidirectional recurrent network to embed some useful information about the future. Inspired by a recently proposed technique called Twin Networks, we add a regularization term that forces forward hidden states to be as close as possible to cotemporal backward ones, computed by a "twin" neural network running backwards in time. The experiments, conducted on a number of datasets, recurrent architectures, input features, and acoustic conditions, have shown the effectiveness of this approach. One important advantage is that our method does not introduce any additional computation at test time if compared to standard unidirectional recurrent networks.
We consider the task of unsupervised extraction of meaningful latent representations of speech by applying autoencoding neural networks to speech waveforms. The goal is to learn a representation able to capture high level semantic content from the signal, e.g. phoneme identities, while being invariant to confounding low level details in the signal such as the underlying pitch contour or background noise. The behavior of autoencoder models depends on the kind of constraint that is applied to the latent representation. We compare three variants: a simple dimensionality reduction bottleneck, a Gaussian Variational Autoencoder (VAE), and a discrete Vector Quantized VAE (VQ-VAE). We analyze the quality of learned representations in terms of speaker independence, the ability to predict phonetic content, and the ability to accurately reconstruct individual spectrogram frames. Moreover, for discrete encodings extracted using the VQ-VAE, we measure the ease of mapping them to phonemes. We introduce a regularization scheme that forces the representations to focus on the phonetic content of the utterance and report performance comparable with the top entries in the ZeroSpeech 2017 unsupervised acoustic unit discovery task.
We explore self-supervised models that can be potentially deployed on mobile devices to learn general purpose audio representations. Specifically, we propose methods that exploit the temporal context in the spectrogram domain. One method estimates the temporal gap between two short audio segments extracted at random from the same audio clip. The other methods are inspired by Word2Vec, a popular technique used to learn word embeddings, and aim at reconstructing a temporal spectrogram slice from past and future slices or, alternatively, at reconstructing the context of surrounding slices from the current slice. We focus our evaluation on small encoder architectures, which can be potentially run on mobile devices during both inference (re-using a common learned representation across multiple downstream tasks) and training (capturing the true data distribution without compromising users' privacy when combined with federated learning). We evaluate the quality of the embeddings produced by the self-supervised learning models, and show that they can be re-used for a variety of downstream tasks, and for some tasks even approach the performance of fully supervised models of similar size.
The ongoing success of deep learning techniques depends on the quality of the representations automatically discovered from data 1. These representations must capture important underlying structures from the raw input, e.g., intermediate concepts, features, or latent variables that are useful for the downstream task. While supervised learning using large annotated corpora can leverage useful representations, collecting large amounts of annotated examples is costly, time-consuming, and not always feasible. This is particularly problematic for a large variety of applications. In the speech domain, for instance, there are many low-resource languages, where the progress is dramatically slower than in high-resource languages such as English.