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From the SLTC Chair

Douglas O'Shaughnessy

SLTC Newsletter, February 2014

Welcome to the first SLTC Newsletter of 2014, under the new management of Florian Metze. We heartily thank Dilek Hakkani-Tur for her excellent editorship and her team (William Campbell, Patrick Nguyen, Haizhou Li) for their great work. We also look forward to continued excellence this year with the new team of William Campbell, Patrick Nguyen, and Haizhou Li.

Last September, we elected 17 members to replace those whose terms expired in December, as well as a new Vice Chair for the committee, Bhuvana Ramabhadran; she will take over the reins as Chair in 2015. We also say a fond thank you to all departing SLTC members: John Hansen, Masami Akamine, Abeer Alwan, Antonio Bonafonte, Honza Cernocky, Eric Fosler-Lussier, Pascale Fung, Dilek Hakkani-Tur, Qi Li, Hermann Ney, and Frank Soong. It will be difficult to replace all these excellent past members, but the new committee looks forward to the challenges. It is also not too soon to start thinking of this autumn’s election to renew the membership of the SLTC; so please recommend to colleagues to submit a nomination this summer. Details will be forthcoming in the next SLTC newsletter.

Our technical committee this year will have the following subcommittees (and members): Language Processing (Geoffrey Zweig, Sanjeev P. Khudanpur, Haizhou Li), Electronic Newsletter (William M. Campbell, Patrick Nguyen, Haizhou Li, Florian Metze, Svetlana Stoyanchev), Fellows (Rainer Martin, Malcolm Slaney, John Hershey), Workshops (Nick Campbell, George Saon, Israel Cohen), EDICS (Alexandros Potamianos, Yifan Gong, Shinji Watanabe), Policies and Procedures (Tiago Falk, Frank Seide), Education (Takayui Arai, Christine Shadle, Kay Berkling, Tom Bäckström), Nominations and Awards (Peder Olsen, Julia Hirschberg, Satoshi Nakamura, Pedro A. Torres-Carrasquillo), Communications (Korin Richmond, Heiga Zen, Tomoki Toda), Industry (Ananth Sankar, Dong Yu, Hagen Soltau), External Relations (Junichi Yamagishi, Gernot Kubin, Maurizio Omologo), Student Awards (Deep Sen, Mike Seltzer, Mark Hasegawa-Johnson, Svetlana Stoyanchev), Member Election (Larry Heck, Fabrice Lefevre, Bhiksha Raj, Andreas Stolcke), Meeting (Najim Dehak, Nicholas Evans, Panayiotis Georgiou), ICASSP 2014 Area Chairs (Björn Schuller, Bowen Zhou, Tim Fingscheidt, Michiel Bacchiani, Haizhou Li, Karen Livescu), HLT-ACL board liaison (Julia Hirschberg). If you have any needs in these areas, please contact one of these subcommittee members.

At this time, we look forward eagerly to ICASSP in Florence May 4-9. Our speech and language areas received 694 paper submissions, of which 50% were accepted. We thank all 497 reviewers for their 2800 reviews. The overall level of quality of the submissions was very good, which made deciding which papers to take, and which not, very hard at times. Among the tutorials at ICASSP is “Deep learning for natural language processing and related applications” (Xiaodong He, Jianfeng Gao, Li Deng of Microsoft Research). As these speakers note, deep learning techniques have enjoyed tremendous success in the speech and language processing community in recent years. The tutorial focuses on deep learning approaches to problems in language or text processing, with particular emphasis on important applications including spoken language understanding (SLU), machine translation (MT), and semantic information retrieval (IR) from text.

To give just a sampling of what we will see at ICASSP this May, four sessions will examine deep neural networks (DNNs) as acoustic models for automatic speech recognition (ASR), e.g., bootstrapping DNN training without Gaussian Mixture Models, generating a stacked bottleneck feature representation for low-resource ASR, replacing optimization by stochastic gradient descent with second-order stochastic optimization, etc. While DNNs can extract high-level features from speech for ASR tasks, there are many possible forms of DNN features, and some papers will explore how effective different DNN features are, including vectors extracted from both output and hidden layers in the DNN. Context-dependent acoustic modelling for DNNs suffers from data sparsity; papers at ICASSP will address this by using decision tree state clusters as training targets.

Other ASR papers at ICASSP will deal with convolutional neural networks, Deep Scattering Spectrum, and Stacked Bottle-Neck neural networks, as well as time-frequency masking to improve noise-robust ASR (in which regions of the spectrogram dominated by noise are attenuated). Recent years have seen an increasing emphasis on fast development of ASR using limited resources, to reduce the need for in-domain data. Discriminative models, such as support vector machines (SVMs), have been successfully applied to ASR, and will be examined further at ICASSP.

Other upcoming ICASSP’s are scheduled for Brisbane (2015), Shanghai (2016), New Orleans (2017), and Seoul (2018). We are also looking forward to the next IEEE Spoken Language Technology (SLT) Workshop, to be held at Harvey’s Lake Tahoe Hotel in Lake Tahoe, Nevada (Dec. 7-10, 2014).

Anyone wishing to help organize the 2015 ASRU (IEEE Automatic Speech Recognition and Understanding) workshop is advised to contact the Workshops Subcommittee; bids are due by April 25th. The biannual meeting will follow up the recent successful ASRU held in December 2013 in the Czech Republic.

In closing, I hope you will consider participating this year at ICASSP and SLT. We look forward to meeting friends and colleagues in beautiful Florence and Tahoe.

Best wishes,

Douglas O'Shaughnessy

Douglas O'Shaughnessy is the Chair of the Speech and Language Processing Technical Committee.