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Dan Ellis

Dan Ellis

Dan Ellis joined Google in 2015 after 15 years as a faculty member in the Electrical Engineering department at Columbia University, where he headed the Laboratory for Recognition and Organization of Speech and Audio (LabROSA). He has over 150 publications in the areas of audio processing, speech recognition, and music information retrieval.
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    MuLan: A Joint Embedding of Music Audio and Natural Language
    Qingqing Huang
    Ravi Ganti
    Judith Yue Li
    Proceedings of the the 23rd International Society for Music Information Retrieval Conference (ISMIR) (2022) (to appear)
    Preview abstract Music tagging and content-based retrieval systems have traditionally been constructed using pre-defined ontologies covering a rigid set of music attributes or text queries. This paper presents MuLan: a first attempt at a new generation of acoustic models that link music audio directly to unconstrained natural language music descriptions. MuLan takes the form of a two-tower, joint audio-text embedding model trained using 44 million music recordings (370K hours) and weakly-associated, free-form text annotations. Through its compatibility with a wide range of music genres and text styles (including conventional music tags), the resulting audio-text representation subsumes existing ontologies while graduating to true zero-shot functionalities. We demonstrate the versatility of the MuLan embeddings with a range of experiments including transfer learning, zero-shot music tagging, language understanding in the music domain, and cross-modal retrieval applications. View details
    Preview abstract To reveal the importance of temporal precision in ground truth audio event labels, we collected precise (∼0.1 sec resolution) “strong” labels for a portion of the AudioSet dataset. We devised a temporally strong evaluation set (including explicit negatives of varying difficulty) and a small strong-labeled training subset of 67k clips (compared to the original dataset’s 1.8M clips labeled at 10 sec resolution). We show that fine-tuning with a mix of weak- and strongly-labeled data can substantially improve classifier performance, even when evaluated using only the original weak labels. For a ResNet50 architecture, d' on the strong evaluation data including explicit negatives improves from 1.13 to 1.41. The new labels are available as an update to AudioSet. View details
    Preview abstract Real-world sound scenes consist of time-varying collections of sound sources, each generating characteristic sound events that are mixed together in audio recordings. The association of these constituent sound events with their mixture and each other is semantically-constrained: the sound scene contains the union of source classes and not all classes naturally co-occur. With this motivation, this paper explores the use of unsupervised automatic sound separation to decompose unlabeled sound scenes into multiple semantically-linked views for use in self-supervised contrastive learning. We find that learning to associate input mixtures with their automatically separated outputs yields stronger representations than past approaches that use the mixtures alone. Further, we discover that optimal source separation is not required for successful contrastive learning by demonstrating that a range of separation system convergence states all lead to useful and often complementary example transformations. Our best system incorporates these unsupervised separation models into a single augmentation front-end and jointly optimizes similarity maximization and coincidence prediction objectives across the views. The result is an unsupervised audio representation that rivals state-of-the-art alternatives on the established shallow AudioSet classification benchmark. View details
    Preview abstract Recent progress in deep learning has enabled many advances in sound separation and visual scene understanding. However, extracting sound sources which are apparent in natural videos remains an open problem. In this work, we present AudioScope, a novel audio-visual sound separation framework that can be trained without supervision to isolate on-screen sound sources from real in-the-wild videos. Prior audio-visual separation work assumed artificial limitations on the domain of sound classes (e.g., to speech or music), constrained the number of sources, and required strong sound separation or visual segmentation labels. AudioScope overcomes these limitations, operating on an open domain of sounds, with variable numbers of sources, and without labels or prior visual segmentation. The training procedure for AudioScope uses mixture invariant training (MixIT) to separate synthetic mixtures of mixtures (MoMs) into individual sources, where noisy labels for mixtures are provided by an unsupervised audio-visual coincidence model. Using the noisy labels, along with attention between video and audio features, AudioScope learns to identify audio-visual similarity and to suppress off-screen sounds. We demonstrate the effectiveness of our approach using a dataset of video clips extracted from open-domain YFCC100m video data. This dataset contains a wide diversity of sound classes recorded in unconstrained conditions, making the application of previous methods unsuitable. For evaluation and semi-supervised experiments, we collected human labels for presence of on-screen and off-screen sounds on a small subset of clips. View details
    What's All the FUSS About Free Universal Sound Separation Data?
    Romain Serizel
    Nicolas Turpault
    Eduardo Fonseca
    Justin Salamon
    Prem Seetharaman
    ICASSP 2021
    Preview abstract We introduce the Free Universal Sound Separation (FUSS) dataset, a new corpus for experiments in separating mixtures of an unknown number of sounds from an open domain of sound types. The dataset consists of 23 hours of single-source audio data drawn from 357 classes, which are used to create mixtures of one to four sources. To simulate reverberation, an acoustic room simulator is used to generate impulse responses of box shaped rooms with frequency-dependent reflective walls. Additional open-source data augmentation tools are also provided to produce new mixtures with different combinations of sources and room simulations. Finally, we introduce an open-source baseline separation model, based on an improved time-domain convolutional network (TDCN++), that can separate a variable number of sources in a mixture. This model achieves 9.8 dB of scale-invariant signal-to-noise ratio improvement (SI-SNRi) on mixtures with two to four sources, while reconstructing single-source inputs with 35.5 dB absolute SI-SNR. We hope this dataset will lower the barrier to new research and allow for fast iteration and application of novel techniques from other machine learning domains to the sound separation challenge. View details
    Preview abstract Recent progress in deep learning has enabled many advances in sound separation and visual scene understanding. However, extracting sound sources which are apparent in natural videos remains an open problem. In this work, we present AudioScope, a novel audio-visual sound separation framework that can be trained without supervision to isolate on-screen sound sources from real in-the-wild videos. Prior audio-visual separation work assumed artificial limitations on the domain of sound classes (e.g., to speech or music), constrained the number of sources, and required strong sound separation or visual segmentation labels. AudioScope overcomes these limitations, operating on an open domain of sounds, with variable numbers of sources, and without labels or prior visual segmentation. The training procedure for AudioScope uses mixture invariant training (MixIT) to separate synthetic mixtures of mixtures (MoMs) into individual sources, where noisy labels for mixtures are provided by an unsupervised audio-visual coincidence model. Using the noisy labels, along with attention between video and audio features, AudioScope learns to identify audio-visual similarity and to suppress off-screen sounds. We demonstrate the effectiveness of our approach using a dataset of video clips extracted from open-domain YFCC100m video data. This dataset contains a wide diversity of sound classes recorded in unconstrained conditions, making the application of previous methods unsuitable. For evaluation and semi-supervised experiments, we collected human labels for presence of on-screen and off-screen sounds on a small subset of clips. View details
    Preview abstract We explore content-based representation learning strategies tailored for large-scale, uncurated music collections that afford only weak supervision through unstructured natural language metadata and co-listen statistics. At the core is a hybrid training scheme that uses classification and metric learning losses to incorporate both metadata-derived text labels and aggregate co-listen supervisory signals into a single convolutional model. The resulting joint text and audio content embedding defines a similarity metric and supports prediction of semantic text labels using a vocabulary of unprecedented granularity, which we refine using a novel word-sense disambiguation procedure. As input to simple classifier architectures, our representation achieves state-of-the-art performance on two music tagging benchmarks. View details
    Preview abstract Humans do not acquire perceptual abilities like we train machines. While machine learning algorithms typically operate on large collections of randomly-chosen, explicitly-labeled examples, human acquisition relies far greater on multimodal unsupervised learning (as infants) and active learning (as children). With this motivation, we present a learning framework for sound representation and recognition that combines (i) a self-supervised objective based on a general notion of unimodal and cross-modal coincidence, (ii) a novel clustering objective that reflects our need to impose categorical structure on our experiences, and (iii) a cluster-based active learning procedure that solicits targeted weak supervision to consolidate hypothesized categories into relevant semantic classes. By jointly training a single sound embedding/clustering/classification network according to these criteria, we achieve a new state-of-the-art unsupervised audio representation and demonstrate up to 20-fold reduction in labels required to reach a desired classification performance. View details
    Preview abstract Deep learning approaches have recently achieved impressive performance on both audio source separation and sound classification. Most audio source separation approaches focus only on separating sources belonging to a restricted domain of source classes, such as speech and music. However, recent work has demonstrated the possibility of "universal sound separation", which aims to separate acoustic sources from an open domain, regardless of their class. In this paper, we utilize the semantic information learned by sound classifier networks trained on a vast amount of diverse sounds to improve universal sound separation. In particular, we show that semantic embeddings extracted from a sound classifier can be used to condition a separation network, providing it with useful additional information. This approach is especially useful in an iterative setup, where source estimates from an initial separation stage and their corresponding classifier-derived embeddings are fed to a second separation network. By performing a thorough hyperparameter search consisting of over a thousand experiments, we find that classifier embeddings from oracle clean sources provide nearly one dB of SNR gain, and our best iterative models achieve a significant fraction of this oracle performance, establishing a new state-of-the-art for universal sound separation. View details
    Audio Tagging with Noisy Labels and Minimal Supervision
    Frederic Font
    Xavier Serra
    Proceedings of the Detection and Classification of Acoustic Scenes and Events 2019 Workshop (DCASE2019) (to appear)
    Preview abstract This paper introduces Task 2 of the DCASE2019 Challenge, titled "Audio tagging with noisy labels and minimal supervision". This task was hosted on the Kaggle platform as "Freesound Audio Tagging 2019". The task evaluates systems for multi-label audio tagging using a large set of noisy-labeled data, and a much smaller set of manually-labeled data, under a large vocabulary setting of 80 everyday sound classes. In addition, the proposed dataset poses an acoustic mismatch problem between the noisy train set and the test set due to the fact that they come from different web audio sources. This can correspond to a realistic scenario given by the difficulty in gathering large amounts of manually labeled data. We present the task setup, the FSDKaggle2019 dataset prepared for this scientific evaluation, and a baseline system consisting of a convolutional neural network. All these resources are freely available. View details
    Learning Sound Event Classifiers From Web Audio With Noisy Labels
    Frederic Font
    Xavier Favory
    Xavier Serra
    Proceedings of ICASSP 2019 (to appear)
    Preview abstract As sound event classification moves towards larger datasets, issues of label noise become inevitable. Web sites can supply large volumes of user-contributed audio and metadata, but inferring labels from this metadata introduces errors due to unreliable inputs, and limitations in the mapping. There is, however, little research into the impact of these errors. To foster the investigation of label noise in sound event classification we present FSDnoisy18k, a dataset containing 44.2 hours of audio across 20 sound classes, including a small amount of manually-labeled data and a larger quantity of real-world noisy data. We characterize the label noise empirically, and provide a CNN baseline system. Experiments suggest that training with large amounts of noisy data can outperform training with smaller amounts of carefully-labeled data. We also show that noise-robust loss functions can be effective in improving performance in presence of corrupted labels. View details
    General-purpose tagging of Freesound audio with AudioSet labels: Task Description, Dataset and Baseline
    Eduardo Fonseca
    Frederic Font
    Xavier Favory
    Jordi Pons
    Xavier Serra
    Proceedings of the Detection and Classification of Acoustic Scenes and Events 2018 Workshop (DCASE2018) (to appear)
    Preview abstract This paper describes Task 2 of the DCASE 2018 Challenge, titled ``General-purpose audio tagging of Freesound content with AudioSet labels''. This task was hosted on the Kaggle platform as ``Freesound General-Purpose Audio Tagging Challenge''. The goal of the task is to build an audio tagging system that can recognize the category of an audio clip from a subset of 41 heterogeneous categories drawn from the AudioSet Ontology. We present the task, the dataset prepared for the competition, and a baseline system. View details
    Preview abstract Speech activity detection (or endpointing) is an important processing step for applications such as speech recognition, language identification and speaker diarization. Both audio- and vision-based approaches have been used for this task in various settings and with multiple variations tailored toward applications. Unfortunately, much of the prior work reports results in synthetic settings, on task-specific datasets, or on datasets that are not openly available. This makes it difficult to compare approaches in similar settings and to understand their strengths and weaknesses. In this paper, we describe a new dataset of densely labeled speech activity in YouTube video clips, which has been designed to address these issues and will be released publicly. The dataset labels go beyond speech alone, annotating three specific speech activity situations: clean speech, speech and music co-occurring, and speech and noise co-occurring. These classes will enable further analysis of model performance in the presence of noise. We report benchmark performance numbers on this dataset using state-of-the-art audio and vision models. View details
    Preview abstract Even in the absence of any explicit semantic annotation, vast collections of audio recordings provide valuable information for learning the categorical structure of sounds. We consider several class-agnostic semantic constraints that apply to unlabeled nonspeech audio: (i) noise and translations in time do not change the underlying sound category, (ii) a mixture of two sound events inherits the categories of the constituents, and (iii) the categories of events in close temporal proximity are likely to be the same or related. Without labels to ground them, these constraints are incompatible with classification loss functions. However, they may still be leveraged to identify geometric inequalities needed for triplet loss-based training of convolutional neural networks. The result is low-dimensional embeddings of the input spectrograms that recover 41% and 84% of the performance of their fully-supervised counterparts when applied to downstream query-by-example sound retrieval and sound event classification tasks, respectively. Moreover, in limited-supervision settings, our unsupervised embeddings double the state-of-the-art classification performance. View details
    Preview abstract Convolutional Neural Networks (CNNs) have proven very effective in image classification and have shown promise for audio classification. We apply various CNN architectures to audio and investigate their ability to classify videos with a very large scale data set of 70M training videos (5.24 million hours) with 30,871 labels. We examine fully connected Deep Neural Networks (DNNs), AlexNet [1], VGG [2], Inception [3], and ResNet [4]. We explore the effects of training with different sized subsets of the 70M training videos. Additionally we report the effect of training over different subsets of the 30,871 labels. While our dataset contains video-level labels, we are also interested in Acoustic Event Detection (AED) and train a classifier on embeddings learned from the video-level task on AudioSet [5]. We find that derivatives of image classification networks do well on our audio classification task, that increasing the number of labels we train on provides some improved performance over subsets of labels, that performance of models improves as we increase training set size, and that a model using embeddings learned from the video-level task do much better than a baseline on the AudioSet classification task. View details
    Towards Learning Semantic Audio Representations from Unlabeled Data
    Ratheet Pandya
    Jiayang Liu
    NIPS Workshop on Machine Learning for Audio Signal Processing (ML4Audio) (2017) (to appear)
    Preview abstract Our goal is to learn semantically structured audio representations without relying on categorically labeled data. We consider several class-agnostic semantic constraints that are inherent to non-speech audio: (i) sound categories are invariant to additive noise and translations in time, (ii) mixtures of two sound events inherit the categories of the constituents, and (iii) the categories of events in close temporal proximity in a single recording are likely to be the same or related. We apply these invariants in the service of sampling training data for triplet-loss embedding models using a large unlabeled dataset of YouTube soundtracks. The resulting low-dimensional representations provide both greatly improved query-by-example retrieval performance and reduced labeled data and model complexity requirements for supervised sound classification. View details
    Large-Scale Audio Event Discovery in One Million YouTube Videos
    Jort F. Gemmeke
    Xiaofeng Liu
    Wade Lawrence
    Dylan Freedman
    Proceedings of ICASSP (2017) (to appear)
    Preview abstract Internet videos provide a virtually boundless source of audio with a conspicuous lack of localized annotations, presenting an ideal setting for unsupervised methods. With this motivation, we perform an unprecedented exploration into the large-scale discovery of recurring audio events in a diverse corpus of one million YouTube videos (45K hours of audio). Our approach is to apply a streaming, nonparametric clustering algorithm to both spectral features and out-of-domain neural audio embeddings, and use a small portion of manually annotated audio events to quantitatively estimate the intrinsic clustering performance. In addition to providing a useful mechanism for unsupervised active learning, we demonstrate the effectiveness of the discovered audio event clusters in two downstream applications. The first is weakly-supervised learning, where we exploit the association of video-level metadata and cluster occurrences to temporally localize audio events. The second is informative activity detection, an unsupervised method for semantic saliency based on the corpus statistics of the discovered event clusters. View details
    Preview abstract Audio event recognition, the human-like ability to identify and relate sounds from audio, is a nascent problem in machine perception. Comparable problems such as object detection in images have reaped enormous benefits from comprehensive datasets -- principally ImageNet. This paper describes the creation of Audio Set, a large-scale dataset of manually-annotated audio events that endeavors to bridge the gap in data availability between image and audio research. Using a carefully structured hierarchical ontology of 635 audio classes guided by the literature and manual curation, we collect data from human labelers to probe the presence of specific audio classes in 10 second segments of YouTube videos. Segments are proposed for labeling using searches based on metadata, context (e.g., links), and content analysis. The result is a dataset of unprecedented breadth and size that will, we hope, substantially stimulate the development of high-performance audio event recognizers. View details
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