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Section: New Results

Complex statistical modeling of speech

Participants : Emmanuel Vincent, Antoine Liutkus, Denis Jouvet, Dominique Fohr, Irina Illina, Joseph Di Martino, Emad Girgis, Arseniy Gorin, Nathan Souviraà-Labastie, Luiza Orosanu, Imran Sheikh, Xabier Jaureguiberry, Baldwin Dumortier.

Acoustic modeling

Theory for audio source separation

Our work on audio source separation was marked by the release of version 2 of our toolbox FASST, which was demonstrated at ICASSP 2014 [65] , and by the publication of a review paper about guided audio source separation for IEEE Signal Processing Magazine [16] . Audio source separation is an inverse problem, which requires the user to guide the separation process using prior models for the source signals and the mixing filters or for the source spectra and their spatial covariance matrices.

On the topic of the mixing parameters, we studied the impact of sparsity penalties over the mixing filters [8] and deterministic subspace constraints [10] over the spatial covariance matrices.

Modelling the spectra of the sources is a fundamental problem in source separation, that aims at catching their main features while requiring few parameters to estimate. We proposed a new framework called Kernel Additive Modelling (KAM). In contrast to Nonnegative Matrix Factorization approaches (NMF), KAM permits to model sources spectro-temporal evolutions only locally. It generalizes many methods from the state-of-the-art, including REPET (voice/music separation) and HPSS (harmonic/percussive separation) and is the first framework to settle them on principled statistical grounds. This year, we have thus been very active not only in diffusing REPET and its variants to a large audience, notably through the publication of a chapter book on the topic [58] , but also by establishing many international collaborations on KAM, leading to the publication of one journal paper in IEEE TSP [13] and to two international conference papers [25] , [42] .

In parallel, we started a new research track on the fusion of multiple source separation techniques. In the specific case when the source spectra are modeled by NMF, the number of components of the NMF is known to have a noticeable influence on separation quality. Many methods have been proposed to select the best order for a given task. To go further, we proposed to use model averaging. As existing techniques do not allow an effective averaging, we introduced a generative model in which the number of components is a random variable and we proposed a modification to conventional variational Bayesian (VB) inference. Initial experiments showed promising results [33] , [32] .

Audio separation based on multiple observations

An interesting scenario for informed audio source separation is when the signals to separate can be observed through deformed references. We proposed a general approach for the separation of multichannel mixtures guided by multiple, deformed reference signals such as repeated excerpts of the same music or repeated versions of the same sentence uttered by different speakers [46] , [66] .

A related topic is the removal of interferences from live recordings. In this scenario, there are as many microphones as source signals, but each microphone captures not only its dedicated source, but also some interference from the other ones. We proposed a variant of KAM, called KAM for Interference Removal (KAMIR) that permits to address this scenario. The corresponding study has been achieved in collaboration with New York and Erlangen universities.

Separation and dereverberation

In order to complement source separation by dereveberation of the source signals, we devoted some work to the estimation of the reverberation time (RT60). In many situations, the room impulse response (RIR) is not available and the RT60 must be blindly estimated from a speech or music signal. Current methods often implicitly assume that reverberation dominates direct sound, which restricts their applicability to relatively small rooms or distant sound sources. We proposed a blind RT60 estimation method that is independent of the room size and the source distance and showed that the estimation error is significantly reduced even in the case when reverberation dominates [21] .

Corpora for audio separation

Finally, we pursued our long-lasting efforts on the evaluation of audio source separation by providing more details about the DEMAND dataset, that is the first-ever publicly available dataset of multichannel real-world noise recordings [55] . Furthermore, we have continued our efforts on providing corpora for the evaluation of music source separation methods (notably for music/voice separation) and target at significantly extending the SiSEC corpus in 2015 to several hundreds complete recordings, to be used for the first time at SiSEC 2015.

Detailed acoustic modeling

Acoustic models aim at representing the acoustic features that are observed for the sounds of the language, as well as for non-speech events (silence, noise, ....). Currently context-dependent hidden Markov models (CD-HMM) constitute the state of the art for speech recognition. However, for text-speech alignment, simpler context-independent models are used as they provide better performance.

In conventional HMM-based approaches that rely on Gaussian mixture densities (GMM), the Gaussian components are estimated independently for each density. Thus, we have focused recent studies on enriching the acoustic models themselves in view of handling trajectory and speaker consistency in decoding. A new modeling approach was developed that takes advantage of the multiple modeling ideas and involves a sharing of parameters. The idea is to use the multiple modeling approach to partition the acoustic space according to classes (manual classes or automatic classification). Then, for each density, Gaussian components are estimated using the data associated to the classes. These class-based Gaussian components are then pooled to provide the set of Gaussian components of the density. Finally class dependent mixture weights are estimated for each density; such approach allows us to better parameterize GMM-HMM without increasing significantly the number of model parameters. Experiments on French radio broadcast news data demonstrated the improvement of the accuracy with such parameterization compared to models with a similar, or even a larger number of parameters. Another approach has been proposed that combines the structuring of the Gaussian components of the densities with respect to some data classes, with the stranded-based approach which introduces probabilities for the transitions between the Gaussian components of the densities when moving from one frame to the next. A detailed analysis of stranded GMM was conducted on data containing different types of non-phonetic variability [29] . The combination of stranded GMM with class-structured densities was evaluated on an English connected digits task using adult and child data [27] and for phonetic decoding on a larger French telephone speech database [26] . This approach was later combined with feature normalization [28] .

Robust acoustic modeling

In the framework of using speech recognition for helping communication with deaf or hard of hearing people, robustness of the acoustic modeling is investigated. Current studies relate to improving robustness with respect to speech signal level and environment noise through multicondition training and enhanced set of acoustic features.

Unsupervised acoustic model training

In previous experiments relating to the combination of speech decoder outputs for improving speech recognition performance [4] , it was observed that when a forward-based and a backward-based decoder were providing a same word hypothesis, such common word hypothesis is correct in more than 90% of the cases  [71] . Hence, we have investigated how such behavior can help for selecting data for unsupervised training of acoustic models. Best performance is achieved when selecting automatically transcribed data (speech segments) that have the same word hypotheses when processed by the Sphinx forward-based and the Julius backward-based transcription systems, and this selection process outperforms confidence measure based selection. Overall, selecting automatically transcribed speech segments that have the same word hypotheses for the two speech transcription systems, and adding this automatically transcribed and selected data to the manually transcribed data leads to significant word error rate reductions on the ESTER2 data (radio broadcast news) when compared to the baseline system trained only on manually transcribed speech data [34] .

Score normalization

Existing techniques for robust ASR typically compensate distortion on the features or on the model parameters themselves. By contrast, a number of normalization techniques have been defined in the field of speaker verification that operate on the resulting log-likelihood scores. We provided a theoretical motivation for likelihood normalization due to the so-called “hubness” phenomenon and we evaluated the benefit of several normalization techniques on ASR accuracy for the 2nd CHiME Challenge task. We showed that symmetric normalization (S-norm) reduces the relative error rate by 43% alone and by 10% after feature and model compensation [53] .

Linguistic modeling

Out-of-vocabulary proper name retrieval

Recognition of proper names is a challenging task in information retrieval in large audio/video databases. Proper names are semantically rich and are usually key to understanding the information contained in a document. Within the ContNomina project (cf. 8.1.4 ), we focus on increasing the vocabulary coverage of a speech transcription system by automatically retrieving proper names from contemporary text documents. We proposed methods that dynamically augment the automatic speech recognition system vocabulary, using lexical and temporal features in diachronic documents (documents that evolve over the time). Our work uses temporal context modeling to capture the lexical information surrounding proper names so as to retrieve out-of-vocabulary proper names and increase the ASR vocabulary size. We focus on exploiting the lexical context based on temporal information from diachronic documents. Our assumption is that time is an important feature for capturing name-to-context dependencies. We also studied different metrics for proper name selection in order to limit the vocabulary augmentation: a method based on Mutual Information and a new method based on cosine-similarity measure. Recognition results show a significant reduction of the proper name error rate using augmented vocabulary [30] [31] .

Hybrid language modeling

In the framework of using speech recognition for helping communication with deaf or hard of hearing people, the handling of out-of-vocabulary words is a critical aspect. Indeed, the size of the vocabulary is always limited (even if large or very large), and the system is not able to recognize words out of its lexicon. Such words would then be transcribed as sequences of short words which involve similar sounds as the unknown word. However the interpretation of such sequences of small word require a lot of efforts. Hence the idea of combining in a single model a set of words (the most frequent and/or most relevant for the application context) and a set of syllables. With such an approach,unknown words are usually recognized as sequences of syllables which are easier to interpret. By setting different thresholds on the confidence measures associated to the recognized words (or syllables), the most reliable word hypotheses can be identified, and they have correct recognition rates between 70% and 92% [44] [45] .

Music language modeling

Similarly to speech, music involves several levels of information, from the acoustic signal up to cognitive quantities such as composer style or key, through mid-level quantities such as a musical score or a sequence of chords. The dependencies between mid-level and lower- or higher-level information can be represented through acoustic models and language models, respectively. We pursued our pioneering work on music language modeling, with a particular focus on the modeling of long-term structure [20] . We also proposed a new Bayesian n-gram topic modeling and estimation technique, which we applied to genre-dependent modeling of chord sequences and to music genre classification [15] .

Speech generation by statistical methods

Enhancing pathological voice by voice conversion techniques

Enhancing the pathological voice in order to make it more intelligible would allow persons having this kind of voice to communicate more easily with those around them. In our group we chose to improve the pathological voice by means of voice conversion techniques. Since we began this study, we have succeeded to predict the complete magnitude spectrum. In doing so, we free ourselves from the prediction of the fundamental frequency of speech (F0). Such an interesting result allows us to obtain converted speech of good audio quality. Now in order to obtain perfect conversion, we are trying, with Emad Girgis, a postdoctoral student who began his work in November 2014, to predict the phase spectrum. To achieve this goal, Emad intends to use Deep Neural Networks (DNN). We expect first results in the beginning of 2015.

Enhancing pathological voice by voice recognition techniques

Another possibility for enhancing the pathological voice is to recognize it. Othman Lachhab, a PhD student, is working on the recognition of the esophageal voice: using high order temporal derivatives combined with an Heteroscedastic Linear Discriminant Analysis (HLDA) he reached an interesting phone recognition rate of 63.59% [36] . Currently Othman, is trying to improve his results by using voice conversion techniques. Using these techniques pathological features are projected in a clean-natural speech feature space, and preliminary results exhibit an increase of 1.70% of the phone recognition rate.

F0 detection using wavelet transforms

Another possible interesting track for improving voice conversion techniques is to predict the fundamental frequency of speech. For doing so, it is necessary to have a good F0 detector. As part of her thesis, Fadoua Bahja developed many F0 detection algorithms [69] [1] . The latest, using wavelet transform for denoising the cepstrum signal, has been submitted for publication in an international journal.