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Cal Peyser

Cal's research is focused on methods for using unsupervised audio and text corpora to improve speech recognition models that are already trained on large supervised datasets. He has bachelors from Princeton and is currently a PhD candidate at NYU.
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    Preview abstract Language model fusion can help smart assistants recognize tail words which are rare in acoustic data but abundant in text-only corpora. However, large-scale text corpora sourced from typed chat or search logs are often (1) prohibitively expensive to train on, (2) beset with content that is mismatched to the voice domain, and (3) heavy-headed rather than heavy-tailed (e.g., too many common search queries such as ``weather''), hindering downstream performance gains. We show that three simple strategies for selecting language modeling data can dramatically improve rare-word recognition without harming overall performance. First, to address the heavy-headedness, we downsample the data according to a soft log function, which tunably reduces high frequency (head) sentences. Second, to encourage rare-word accuracy, we explicitly filter for sentences with words which are rare in the acoustic data. Finally, we tackle domain-mismatch by apply perplexity-based contrastive selection to filter for examples which are matched to the target domain. We downselect a large corpus of web search queries by a factor of over 50x to train an LM, achieving better perplexities on the target acoustic domain than without downselection. When used with shallow fusion on a production-grade speech engine, it achieves a WER reduction of up to 24\% on rare-word sentences (without changing the overall WER) relative to a baseline LM trained on an unfiltered corpus. View details
    Preview abstract Improving the performance of end-to-end ASR models on long utterances of minutes to hours is an ongoing problem in speech recognition. A common solution is to segment the audio in advance using a separate voice activity detector (VAD) that decides segment boundaries based purely on acoustic speech/non-speech information. VAD segmenters, however, may be sub-optimal for real-world speech where, e.g., a complete sentence that should be taken as a whole may contain hesitations in the middle ("set a alarm for... 5 o'clock"). Here, we propose replacing the VAD with an end-to-end ASR model capable of predicting segment boundaries, allowing the segmentation to be conditioned not only on deeper acoustic features but also on linguistic features from the decoded text, while requiring negligible extra compute. In experiments on real world long-form audio (YouTube) of up to 30 minutes long, we demonstrate WER gains of 5\% relative to the VAD baseline on a state-of-the-art Conformer RNN-T setup. View details
    Preview abstract On-device end-to-end (E2E) models have shown improvementsover a conventional model on Search test sets in both quality, as measured by Word Error Rate (WER), and latency, measured by the time the result is finalized after the user stops speaking. However, the E2E model is trained on a small fraction of audio-text pairs compared to the 100 billion text utterances that a conventional language model (LM) is trained with. Thus E2E models perform poorly on rare words and phrases. In this paper, building upon the two-pass streaming Cascaded Encoder E2E model, we explore using a Hybrid Autoregressive Transducer (HAT) factorization to better integrate an on-device neural LM trained on text-only data. Furthermore, to further improve decoder latency we introduce a non-recurrent embedding decoder, in place of the typical LSTM decoder, into the Cascaded Encoder model. Overall, we present a streaming on-device model that incorporates an external neural LM and outperforms the conventional model in both search and rare-word quality, as well as latency, and is 318X smaller. View details
    Preview abstract We introduce Lookup-Table Language Models (LookupLM), a method for scaling up the size of RNN language models with only a constant increase in the floating point operations, by increasing the expressivity of the embedding table. In particular, we instantiate an (additional) embedding table which embeds the previous n-gram token sequence, rather than a single token. This allows the embedding table to be scaled up arbitrarily -- with a commensurate increase in performance -- without changing the token vocabulary. Since embeddings are sparsely retrieved from the table via a lookup; increasing the size of the table adds neither extra operations to each forward pass nor extra parameters that need to be stored on limited GPU/TPU memory. We explore scaling n-gram embedding tables up to nearly a billion parameters. When trained on a 3-billion sentence corpus, we find that LookupLM improves long tail log perplexity by 2.44 and long tail WER by 23.4% on a downstream speech recognition task over a standard RNN language model baseline, an improvement comparable to a scaling up the baseline by 6.2x the number of floating point operations. View details
    Preview abstract Thus far, end-to-end (E2E) models have not shown to outperform state-of-the-art conventional models with respect to both quality, i.e., word error rate (WER), and latency, i.e., the time the hypothesis is finalized after the user stops speaking. In this paper, we develop a first-pass Recurrent Neural Network Transducer (RNN-T) model and a second-pass Listen, Attend, Spell (LAS) rescorer that surpasses a conventional model in both quality and latency. On the quality side, we incorporate a large number of utterances across varied domains to increase acoustic diversity and the vocabulary seen by the model. We also train with accented English speech to make the model more robust to different pronunciations. In addition, given the increased amount of training data, we explore a varied learning rate schedule. On the latency front, we explore using the end-of-sentence decision emitted by the RNN-T model to close the microphone, and also introduce various optimizations to improve the speed of LAS rescoring. Overall, we find that RNN-T+LAS offers a better WER and latency tradeoff compared to a conventional model. For example, for the same latency, RNN-T+LAS obtains a 8% relative improvement in WER, while being more than 400-times smaller in model size. View details
    Preview abstract Recognizing written domain numeric utterances (e.g., I need $1.25.) can be challenging for ASR systems, particularly when numeric sequences are not seen during training. This out-ofvocabulary (OOV) issue is addressed in conventional ASR systems by training part of the model on spoken domain utterances (e.g., I need one dollar and twenty five cents.), for which numeric sequences are composed of in-vocabulary numbers, and then using an FST verbalizer to denormalize the result. Unfortunately, conventional ASR models are not suitable for the low memory setting of on-device speech recognition. E2E models such as RNN-T, are attractive for on-device ASR, as they fold the AM, PM and LM of a conventional model into one neural network. However, in the on-device setting the large memory footprint of an FST denormer makes spoken domain training more difficult. In this paper, we investigate techniques to improve E2E model performance on numeric data. We find that using a text-to-speech system to generate additional numeric training data, as well as using a small-footprint neural network to perform spoken-to-written domain denorming, yields improvement in several numeric classes. In the case of the longest numeric sequences, we see reduction of WER by up to a factor of 7.in this setting forces training back into the written domain, resulting in poor model performance on numeric sequences. In this paper, we investigate different techniques to improve E2E model performance on numeric data. We find that by using a text-to-speech system to generate additional training data that emphasizes difficult numeric utterances, as well as by using an independently-trained small-footprint neural network to perform spoken-to-written domain denorming, we achieve strong results in several numeric classes. In the case of the longest numeric sequences, for which the OOV issue is most prevalent, we see reduction of WER by up to a factor of 7. View details
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