Brian Yan


CTC Alignments Improve Autoregressive Translation
Brian Yan | Siddharth Dalmia | Yosuke Higuchi | Graham Neubig | Florian Metze | Alan W Black | Shinji Watanabe
Proceedings of the 17th Conference of the European Chapter of the Association for Computational Linguistics

Connectionist Temporal Classification (CTC) is a widely used approach for automatic speech recognition (ASR) that performs conditionally independent monotonic alignment. However for translation, CTC exhibits clear limitations due to the contextual and non-monotonic nature of the task and thus lags behind attentional decoder approaches in terms of translation quality. In this work, we argue that CTC does in fact make sense for translation if applied in a joint CTC/attention framework wherein CTC’s core properties can counteract several key weaknesses of pure-attention models during training and decoding. To validate this conjecture, we modify the Hybrid CTC/Attention model originally proposed for ASR to support text-to-text translation (MT) and speech-to-text translation (ST). Our proposed joint CTC/attention models outperform pure-attention baselines across six benchmark translation tasks.


CMU’s IWSLT 2022 Dialect Speech Translation System
Brian Yan | Patrick Fernandes | Siddharth Dalmia | Jiatong Shi | Yifan Peng | Dan Berrebbi | Xinyi Wang | Graham Neubig | Shinji Watanabe
Proceedings of the 19th International Conference on Spoken Language Translation (IWSLT 2022)

This paper describes CMU’s submissions to the IWSLT 2022 dialect speech translation (ST) shared task for translating Tunisian-Arabic speech to English text. We use additional paired Modern Standard Arabic data (MSA) to directly improve the speech recognition (ASR) and machine translation (MT) components of our cascaded systems. We also augment the paired ASR data with pseudo translations via sequence-level knowledge distillation from an MT model and use these artificial triplet ST data to improve our end-to-end (E2E) systems. Our E2E models are based on the Multi-Decoder architecture with searchable hidden intermediates. We extend the Multi-Decoder by orienting the speech encoder towards the target language by applying ST supervision as hierarchical connectionist temporal classification (CTC) multi-task. During inference, we apply joint decoding of the ST CTC and ST autoregressive decoder branches of our modified Multi-Decoder. Finally, we apply ROVER voting, posterior combination, and minimum bayes-risk decoding with combined N-best lists to ensemble our various cascaded and E2E systems. Our best systems reached 20.8 and 19.5 BLEU on test2 (blind) and test1 respectively. Without any additional MSA data, we reached 20.4 and 19.2 on the same test sets.

Token-level Sequence Labeling for Spoken Language Understanding using Compositional End-to-End Models
Siddhant Arora | Siddharth Dalmia | Brian Yan | Florian Metze | Alan W Black | Shinji Watanabe
Findings of the Association for Computational Linguistics: EMNLP 2022

End-to-end spoken language understanding (SLU) systems are gaining popularity over cascaded approaches due to their simplicity and ability to avoid error propagation. However, these systems model sequence labeling as a sequence prediction task causing a divergence from its well-established token-level tagging formulation. We build compositional end-to-end SLU systems that explicitly separate the added complexity of recognizing spoken mentions in SLU from the NLU task of sequence labeling. By relying on intermediate decoders trained for ASR, our end-to-end systems transform the input modality from speech to token-level representations that can be used in the traditional sequence labeling framework. This composition of ASR and NLU formulations in our end-to-end SLU system offers direct compatibility with pre-trained ASR and NLU systems, allows performance monitoring of individual components and enables the use of globally normalized losses like CRF, making them attractive in practical scenarios. Our models outperform both cascaded and direct end-to-end models on a labeling task of named entity recognition across SLU benchmarks.

BERT Meets CTC: New Formulation of End-to-End Speech Recognition with Pre-trained Masked Language Model
Yosuke Higuchi | Brian Yan | Siddhant Arora | Tetsuji Ogawa | Tetsunori Kobayashi | Shinji Watanabe
Findings of the Association for Computational Linguistics: EMNLP 2022

This paper presents BERT-CTC, a novel formulation of end-to-end speech recognition that adapts BERT for connectionist temporal classification (CTC). Our formulation relaxes the conditional independence assumptions used in conventional CTC and incorporates linguistic knowledge through the explicit output dependency obtained by BERT contextual embedding. BERT-CTC attends to the full contexts of the input and hypothesized output sequences via the self-attention mechanism. This mechanism encourages a model to learn inner/inter-dependencies between the audio and token representations while maintaining CTC’s training efficiency. During inference, BERT-CTC combines a mask-predict algorithm with CTC decoding, which iteratively refines an output sequence. The experimental results reveal that BERT-CTC improves over conventional approaches across variations in speaking styles and languages. Finally, we show that the semantic representations in BERT-CTC are beneficial towards downstream spoken language understanding tasks.


ESPnet-ST IWSLT 2021 Offline Speech Translation System
Hirofumi Inaguma | Brian Yan | Siddharth Dalmia | Pengcheng Guo | Jiatong Shi | Kevin Duh | Shinji Watanabe
Proceedings of the 18th International Conference on Spoken Language Translation (IWSLT 2021)

This paper describes the ESPnet-ST group’s IWSLT 2021 submission in the offline speech translation track. This year we made various efforts on training data, architecture, and audio segmentation. On the data side, we investigated sequence-level knowledge distillation (SeqKD) for end-to-end (E2E) speech translation. Specifically, we used multi-referenced SeqKD from multiple teachers trained on different amounts of bitext. On the architecture side, we adopted the Conformer encoder and the Multi-Decoder architecture, which equips dedicated decoders for speech recognition and translation tasks in a unified encoder-decoder model and enables search in both source and target language spaces during inference. We also significantly improved audio segmentation by using the toolkit and merging multiple short segments for long context modeling. Experimental evaluations showed that each of them contributed to large improvements in translation performance. Our best E2E system combined all the above techniques with model ensembling and achieved 31.4 BLEU on the 2-ref of tst2021 and 21.2 BLEU and 19.3 BLEU on the two single references of tst2021.

Searchable Hidden Intermediates for End-to-End Models of Decomposable Sequence Tasks
Siddharth Dalmia | Brian Yan | Vikas Raunak | Florian Metze | Shinji Watanabe
Proceedings of the 2021 Conference of the North American Chapter of the Association for Computational Linguistics: Human Language Technologies

End-to-end approaches for sequence tasks are becoming increasingly popular. Yet for complex sequence tasks, like speech translation, systems that cascade several models trained on sub-tasks have shown to be superior, suggesting that the compositionality of cascaded systems simplifies learning and enables sophisticated search capabilities. In this work, we present an end-to-end framework that exploits compositionality to learn searchable hidden representations at intermediate stages of a sequence model using decomposed sub-tasks. These hidden intermediates can be improved using beam search to enhance the overall performance and can also incorporate external models at intermediate stages of the network to re-score or adapt towards out-of-domain data. One instance of the proposed framework is a Multi-Decoder model for speech translation that extracts the searchable hidden intermediates from a speech recognition sub-task. The model demonstrates the aforementioned benefits and outperforms the previous state-of-the-art by around +6 and +3 BLEU on the two test sets of Fisher-CallHome and by around +3 and +4 BLEU on the English-German and English-French test sets of MuST-C.

Highland Puebla Nahuatl Speech Translation Corpus for Endangered Language Documentation
Jiatong Shi | Jonathan D. Amith | Xuankai Chang | Siddharth Dalmia | Brian Yan | Shinji Watanabe
Proceedings of the First Workshop on Natural Language Processing for Indigenous Languages of the Americas

Documentation of endangered languages (ELs) has become increasingly urgent as thousands of languages are on the verge of disappearing by the end of the 21st century. One challenging aspect of documentation is to develop machine learning tools to automate the processing of EL audio via automatic speech recognition (ASR), machine translation (MT), or speech translation (ST). This paper presents an open-access speech translation corpus of Highland Puebla Nahuatl (glottocode high1278), an EL spoken in central Mexico. It then addresses machine learning contributions to endangered language documentation and argues for the importance of speech translation as a key element in the documentation process. In our experiments, we observed that state-of-the-art end-to-end ST models could outperform a cascaded ST (ASR > MT) pipeline when translating endangered language documentation materials.