The ever more accurate search for deep analysis in customer data is a really strong technological trend nowadays, quite appealing to both private and public companies. This is particularly true in the contact center domain, where speech analytics is an extremely powerful methodology for gaining insights from unstructured data, coming from customer and human agent conversations. In this work, we describe an experimentation with a speech analytics process for an Italian contact center, that deals with call recordings extracted from inbound or outbound flows. First, we illustrate in detail the development of an in-house speech-to-text solution, based on Kaldi framework, and evaluate its performance (and compare it to Google Cloud Speech API). Then, we evaluate and compare different approaches to the semantic tagging of call transcripts, ranging from classic regular expressions to machine learning models based on ngrams and logistic regression, and propose a combination of them, which is shown to provide a consistent benefit. Finally, a decision tree inducer, called J48S, is applied to the problem of tagging. Such an algorithm is natively capable of exploiting sequential data, such as texts, for classification purposes. The solution is compared with the other approaches and is shown to provide competitive classification performances, while generating highly interpretable models and reducing the complexity of the data preparation phase. The potential operational impact of the whole process is thoroughly examined.
In this paper, we propose a novel auxiliary loss function for target-speaker automatic speech recognition (ASR). Our method automatically extracts and transcribes target speaker's utterances from a monaural mixture of multiple speakers speech given a short sample of the target speaker. The proposed auxiliary loss function attempts to additionally maximize interference speaker ASR accuracy during training. This will regularize the network to achieve a better representation for speaker separation, thus achieving better accuracy on the target-speaker ASR. We evaluated our proposed method using two-speaker-mixed speech in various signal-to-interference-ratio conditions. We first built a strong target-speaker ASR baseline based on the state-of-the-art lattice-free maximum mutual information. This baseline achieved a word error rate (WER) of 18.06% on the test set while a normal ASR trained with clean data produced a completely corrupted result (WER of 84.71%). Then, our proposed loss further reduced the WER by 6.6% relative to this strong baseline, achieving a WER of 16.87%. In addition to the accuracy improvement, we also showed that the auxiliary output branch for the proposed loss can even be used for a secondary ASR for interference speakers' speech.
Despite the remarkable progress achieved on automatic speech recognition, recognizing far-field speeches mixed with various noise sources is still a challenging task. In this paper, we introduce novel student-teacher transfer learning, BridgeNet which can provide a solution to improve distant speech recognition. There are two key features in BridgeNet. First, BridgeNet extends traditional student-teacher frameworks by providing multiple hints from a teacher network. Hints are not limited to the soft labels from a teacher network. Teacher's intermediate feature representations can better guide a student network to learn how to denoise or dereverberate noisy input. Second, the proposed recursive architecture in the BridgeNet can iteratively improve denoising and recognition performance. The experimental results of BridgeNet showed significant improvements in tackling the distant speech recognition problem, where it achieved up to 13.24% relative WER reductions on AMI corpus compared to a baseline neural network without teacher's hints.
Speaker verification has been studied mostly under the single-talker condition. It is adversely affected in the presence of interference speakers. Inspired by the study on target speaker extraction, e.g., SpEx, we propose a unified speaker verification framework for both single- and multi-talker speech, that is able to pay selective auditory attention to the target speaker. This target speaker verification (tSV) framework jointly optimizes a speaker attention module and a speaker representation module via multi-task learning. We study four different target speaker embedding schemes under the tSV framework. The experimental results show that all four target speaker embedding schemes significantly outperform other competitive solutions for multi-talker speech. Notably, the best tSV speaker embedding scheme achieves 76.0% and 55.3% relative improvements over the baseline system on the WSJ0-2mix-extr and Libri2Mix corpora in terms of equal-error-rate for 2-talker speech, while the performance of tSV for single-talker speech is on par with that of traditional speaker verification system, that is trained and evaluated under the same single-talker condition.
Neural waveform models such as the WaveNet are used in many recent text-to-speech systems, but the original WaveNet is quite slow in waveform generation because of its autoregressive (AR) structure. Although faster non-AR models were recently reported, they may be prohibitively complicated due to the use of a distilling training method and the blend of other disparate training criteria. This study proposes a non-AR neural source-filter waveform model that can be directly trained using spectrum-based training criteria and the stochastic gradient descent method. Given the input acoustic features, the proposed model first uses a source module to generate a sine-based excitation signal and then uses a filter module to transform the excitation signal into the output speech waveform. Our experiments demonstrated that the proposed model generated waveforms at least 100 times faster than the AR WaveNet and the quality of its synthetic speech is close to that of speech generated by the AR WaveNet. Ablation test results showed that both the sine-wave excitation signal and the spectrum-based training criteria were essential to the performance of the proposed model.
Dysarthric speech recognition is a challenging task due to acoustic variability and limited amount of available data. Diverse conditions of dysarthric speakers account for the acoustic variability, which make the variability difficult to be modeled precisely. This paper presents a variational auto-encoder based variability encoder (VAEVE) to explicitly encode such variability for dysarthric speech. The VAEVE makes use of both phoneme information and low-dimensional latent variable to reconstruct the input acoustic features, thereby the latent variable is forced to encode the phoneme-independent variability. Stochastic gradient variational Bayes algorithm is applied to model the distribution for generating variability encodings, which are further used as auxiliary features for DNN acoustic modeling. Experiment results conducted on the UASpeech corpus show that the VAEVE based variability encodings have complementary effect to the learning hidden unit contributions (LHUC) speaker adaptation. The systems using variability encodings consistently outperform the comparable baseline systems without using them, and" obtain absolute word error rate (WER) reduction by up to 2.2% on dysarthric speech with "Very lowintelligibility level, and up to 2% on the "Mixed" type of dysarthric speech with diverse or uncertain conditions.
Attention-based sequence-to-sequence automatic speech recognition (ASR) requires a significant delay to recognize long utterances because the output is generated after receiving entire input sequences. Although several studies recently proposed sequence mechanisms for incremental speech recognition (ISR), using different frameworks and learning algorithms is more complicated than the standard ASR model. One main reason is because the model needs to decide the incremental steps and learn the transcription that aligns with the current short speech segment. In this work, we investigate whether it is possible to employ the original architecture of attention-based ASR for ISR tasks by treating a full-utterance ASR as the teacher model and the ISR as the student model. We design an alternative student network that, instead of using a thinner or a shallower model, keeps the original architecture of the teacher model but with shorter sequences (few encoder and decoder states). Using attention transfer, the student network learns to mimic the same alignment between the current input short speech segments and the transcription. Our experiments show that by delaying the starting time of recognition process with about 1.7 sec, we can achieve comparable performance to one that needs to wait until the end.
Several recent work on speech synthesis have employed generative adversarial networks (GANs) to produce raw waveforms. Although such methods improve the sampling efficiency and memory usage, their sample quality has not yet reached that of autoregressive and flow-based generative models. In this work, we propose HiFi-GAN, which achieves both efficient and high-fidelity speech synthesis. As speech audio consists of sinusoidal signals with various periods, we demonstrate that modeling periodic patterns of an audio is crucial for enhancing sample quality. A subjective human evaluation (mean opinion score, MOS) of a single speaker dataset indicates that our proposed method demonstrates similarity to human quality while generating 22.05 kHz high-fidelity audio 167.9 times faster than real-time on a single V100 GPU. We further show the generality of HiFi-GAN to the mel-spectrogram inversion of unseen speakers and end-to-end speech synthesis. Finally, a small footprint version of HiFi-GAN generates samples 13.4 times faster than real-time on CPU with comparable quality to an autoregressive counterpart.