The subjective perception of emotion leads to inconsistent labels from human annotators. Typically, utterances lacking majority-agreed labels are excluded when training an emotion classifier, which cause problems when encountering ambiguous emotional expressions during testing. This paper investigates three methods to handle ambiguous emotion. First, we show that incorporating utterances without majority-agreed labels as an additional class in the classifier reduces the classification performance of the other emotion classes. Then, we propose detecting utterances with ambiguous emotions as out-of-domain samples by quantifying the uncertainty in emotion classification using evidential deep learning. This approach retains the classification accuracy while effectively detects ambiguous emotion expressions. Furthermore, to obtain fine-grained distinctions among ambiguous emotions, we propose representing emotion as a distribution instead of a single class label. The task is thus re-framed from classification to distribution estimation where every individual annotation is taken into account, not just the majority opinion. The evidential uncertainty measure is extended to quantify the uncertainty in emotion distribution estimation. Experimental results on the IEMOCAP and CREMA-D datasets demonstrate the superior capability of the proposed method in terms of majority class prediction, emotion distribution estimation, and uncertainty estimation.
Foundation models have shown superior performance for speech emotion recognition (SER). However, given the limited data in emotion corpora, finetuning all parameters of large pre-trained models for SER can be both resource-intensive and susceptible to overfitting. This paper investigates parameter-efficient finetuning (PEFT) for SER. Various PEFT adaptors are systematically studied for both classification of discrete emotion categories and prediction of dimensional emotional attributes. The results demonstrate that the combination of PEFT methods surpasses full finetuning with a significant reduction in the number of trainable parameters. Furthermore, a two-stage adaptation strategy is proposed to adapt models trained on acted emotion data, which is more readily available, to make the model more adept at capturing natural emotional expressions. Both intra- and cross-corpus experiments validate the efficacy of the proposed approach in enhancing the performance on both the source and target domains.
Recently, connectionist temporal classification (CTC)-based end-to-end (E2E) automatic speech recognition (ASR) models have achieved impressive results, especially with the development of self-supervised learning. However, E2E ASR models trained on paired speech-text data often suffer from domain shifts from training to testing. To alleviate this issue, this paper proposes a flat-start joint training method, named FastInject, which efficiently injects multi-domain unpaired text data into CTC-based ASR training. To maintain training efficiency, text units are pre-upsampled, and their representations are fed into the CTC model along with speech features. To bridge the modality gap between speech and text, an attention-based modality matching mechanism (AM3) is proposed, which retains the E2E flat-start training. Experiments show that the proposed FastInject gave a 22\% relative WER reduction (WERR) for intra-domain Librispeech-100h data and 20\% relative WERR on out-of-domain test sets.
Although end-to-end (E2E) automatic speech recognition (ASR) has shown state-of-the-art recognition accuracy, it tends to be implicitly biased towards the training data distribution which can degrade generalisation. This paper proposes a label-synchronous neural transducer (LS-Transducer), which provides a natural approach to domain adaptation based on text-only data. The LS-Transducer extracts a label-level encoder representation before combining it with the prediction network output. Since blank tokens are no longer needed, the prediction network performs as a standard language model, which can be easily adapted using text-only data. An Auto-regressive Integrate-and-Fire (AIF) mechanism is proposed to generate the label-level encoder representation while retaining low latency operation that can be used for streaming. In addition, a streaming joint decoding method is designed to improve ASR accuracy while retaining synchronisation with AIF. Experiments show that compared to standard neural transducers, the proposed LS-Transducer gave a 12.9% relative WER reduction (WERR) for intra-domain LibriSpeech data, as well as 21.4% and 24.6% relative WERRs on cross-domain TED-LIUM 2 and AESRC2020 data with an adapted prediction network.
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Recently, advancements in large language models (LLMs) have shown an unprecedented ability across various language tasks. This paper investigates the potential application of LLMs to slot filling with noisy ASR transcriptions, via both in-context learning and task-specific fine-tuning. Dedicated prompt designs and fine-tuning approaches are proposed to improve the robustness of LLMs for slot filling with noisy ASR transcriptions. Moreover, a linearised knowledge injection (LKI) scheme is also proposed to integrate dynamic external knowledge into LLMs. Experiments were performed on SLURP to quantify the performance of LLMs, including GPT-3.5-turbo, GPT-4, LLaMA-13B and Vicuna-13B (v1.1 and v1.5) with different ASR error rates. The use of the proposed fine-tuning together with the LKI scheme for LLaMA-13B achieved an 8.3% absolute SLU-F1 improvement compared to the strong Flan-T5-base baseline system on a limited data setup.
Human annotator simulation (HAS) serves as a cost-effective substitute for human evaluation such as data annotation and system assessment. Human perception and behaviour during human evaluation exhibit inherent variability due to diverse cognitive processes and subjective interpretations, which should be taken into account in modelling to better mimic the way people perceive and interact with the world. This paper introduces a novel meta-learning framework that treats HAS as a zero-shot density estimation problem, which incorporates human variability and allows for the efficient generation of human-like annotations for unlabelled test inputs. Under this framework, we propose two new model classes, conditional integer flows and conditional softmax flows, to account for ordinal and categorical annotations, respectively. The proposed method is evaluated on three real-world human evaluation tasks and shows superior capability and efficiency to predict the aggregated behaviours of human annotators, match the distribution of human annotations, and simulate the inter-annotator disagreements.
Although end-to-end (E2E) trainable automatic speech recognition (ASR) has shown great success by jointly learning acoustic and linguistic information, it still suffers from the effect of domain shifts, thus limiting potential applications. The E2E ASR model implicitly learns an internal language model (LM) which characterises the training distribution of the source domain, and the E2E trainable nature makes the internal LM difficult to adapt to the target domain with text-only data To solve this problem, this paper proposes decoupled structures for attention-based encoder-decoder (Decoupled-AED) and neural transducer (Decoupled-Transducer) models, which can achieve flexible domain adaptation in both offline and online scenarios while maintaining robust intra-domain performance. To this end, the acoustic and linguistic parts of the E2E model decoder (or prediction network) are decoupled, making the linguistic component (i.e. internal LM) replaceable. When encountering a domain shift, the internal LM can be directly replaced during inference by a target-domain LM, without re-training or using domain-specific paired speech-text data. Experiments for E2E ASR models trained on the LibriSpeech-100h corpus showed that the proposed decoupled structure gave 15.1% and 17.2% relative word error rate reductions on the TED-LIUM 2 and AESRC2020 corpora while still maintaining performance on intra-domain data.
Although automatic emotion recognition (AER) has recently drawn significant research interest, most current AER studies use manually segmented utterances, which are usually unavailable for dialogue systems. This paper proposes integrating AER with automatic speech recognition (ASR) and speaker diarisation (SD) in a jointly-trained system. Distinct output layers are built for four sub-tasks including AER, ASR, voice activity detection and speaker classification based on a shared encoder. Taking the audio of a conversation as input, the integrated system finds all speech segments and transcribes the corresponding emotion classes, word sequences, and speaker identities. Two metrics are proposed to evaluate AER performance with automatic segmentation based on time-weighted emotion and speaker classification errors. Results on the IEMOCAP dataset show that the proposed system consistently outperforms two baselines with separately trained single-task systems on AER, ASR and SD.
Neural transducers provide a natural approach to streaming ASR. However, they augment output sequences with blank tokens which leads to challenges for domain adaptation using text data. This paper proposes a label-synchronous neural transducer (LS-Transducer), which extracts a label-level encoder representation before combining it with the prediction network output. Hence blank tokens are no longer needed and the prediction network can be easily adapted using text data. An Auto-regressive Integrate-and-Fire (AIF) mechanism is proposed to generate the label-level encoder representation while retaining the streaming property. In addition, a streaming joint decoding method is designed to improve ASR accuracy. Experiments show that compared to standard neural transducers, the proposed LS-Transducer gave a 10% relative WER reduction (WERR) for intra-domain Librispeech-100h data, as well as 17% and 19% relative WERRs on cross-domain TED-LIUM 2 and AESRC2020 data with an adapted prediction network.
Manually annotating fine-grained slot-value labels for task-oriented dialogue (ToD) systems is an expensive and time-consuming endeavour. This motivates research into slot-filling methods that operate with limited amounts of labelled data. Moreover, the majority of current work on ToD is based solely on text as the input modality, neglecting the additional challenges of imperfect automatic speech recognition (ASR) when working with spoken language. In this work, we propose a Knowledge-Aware Audio-Grounded generative slot-filling framework, termed KA2G, that focuses on few-shot and zero-shot slot filling for ToD with speech input. KA2G achieves robust and data-efficient slot filling for speech-based ToD by 1) framing it as a text generation task, 2) grounding text generation additionally in the audio modality, and 3) conditioning on available external knowledge (e.g. a predefined list of possible slot values). We show that combining both modalities within the KA2G framework improves the robustness against ASR errors. Further, the knowledge-aware slot-value generator in KA2G, implemented via a pointer generator mechanism, particularly benefits few-shot and zero-shot learning. Experiments, conducted on the standard speech-based single-turn SLURP dataset and a multi-turn dataset extracted from a commercial ToD system, display strong and consistent gains over prior work, especially in few-shot and zero-shot setups.