Dirk Padfield


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Teaching BERT to Wait: Balancing Accuracy and Latency for Streaming Disfluency Detection
Angelica Chen | Vicky Zayats | Daniel Walker | Dirk Padfield
Proceedings of the 2022 Conference of the North American Chapter of the Association for Computational Linguistics: Human Language Technologies

In modern interactive speech-based systems, speech is consumed and transcribed incrementally prior to having disfluencies removed. While this post-processing step is crucial for producing clean transcripts and high performance on downstream tasks (e.g. machine translation), most current state-of-the-art NLP models such as the Transformer operate non-incrementally, potentially causing unacceptable delays for the user. In this work we propose a streaming BERT-based sequence tagging model that, combined with a novel training objective, is capable of detecting disfluencies in real-time while balancing accuracy and latency. This is accomplished by training the model to decide whether to immediately output a prediction for the current input or to wait for further context, in essence learning to dynamically size the lookahead window. Our results demonstrate that our model produces comparably accurate predictions and does so sooner than our baselines, with lower flicker. Furthermore, the model attains state-of-the-art latency and stability scores when compared with recent work on incremental disfluency detection.


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Inverted Projection for Robust Speech Translation
Dirk Padfield | Colin Cherry
Proceedings of the 18th International Conference on Spoken Language Translation (IWSLT 2021)

Traditional translation systems trained on written documents perform well for text-based translation but not as well for speech-based applications. We aim to adapt translation models to speech by introducing actual lexical errors from ASR and segmentation errors from automatic punctuation into our translation training data. We introduce an inverted projection approach that projects automatically detected system segments onto human transcripts and then re-segments the gold translations to align with the projected human transcripts. We demonstrate that this overcomes the train-test mismatch present in other training approaches. The new projection approach achieves gains of over 1 BLEU point over a baseline that is exposed to the human transcripts and segmentations, and these gains hold for both IWSLT data and YouTube data.

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Residual Adapters for Parameter-Efficient ASR Adaptation to Atypical and Accented Speech
Katrin Tomanek | Vicky Zayats | Dirk Padfield | Kara Vaillancourt | Fadi Biadsy
Proceedings of the 2021 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing

Automatic Speech Recognition (ASR) systems are often optimized to work best for speakers with canonical speech patterns. Unfortunately, these systems perform poorly when tested on atypical speech and heavily accented speech. It has previously been shown that personalization through model fine-tuning substantially improves performance. However, maintaining such large models per speaker is costly and difficult to scale. We show that by adding a relatively small number of extra parameters to the encoder layers via so-called residual adapter, we can achieve similar adaptation gains compared to model fine-tuning, while only updating a tiny fraction (less than 0.5%) of the model parameters. We demonstrate this on two speech adaptation tasks (atypical and accented speech) and for two state-of-the-art ASR architectures.