Sara Papi


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Efficient yet Competitive Speech Translation: FBK@IWSLT2022
Marco Gaido | Sara Papi | Dennis Fucci | Giuseppe Fiameni | Matteo Negri | Marco Turchi
Proceedings of the 19th International Conference on Spoken Language Translation (IWSLT 2022)

The primary goal of this FBK’s systems submission to the IWSLT 2022 offline and simultaneous speech translation tasks is to reduce model training costs without sacrificing translation quality. As such, we first question the need of ASR pre-training, showing that it is not essential to achieve competitive results. Second, we focus on data filtering, showing that a simple method that looks at the ratio between source and target characters yields a quality improvement of 1 BLEU. Third, we compare different methods to reduce the detrimental effect of the audio segmentation mismatch between training data manually segmented at sentence level and inference data that is automatically segmented. Towards the same goal of training cost reduction, we participate in the simultaneous task with the same model trained for offline ST. The effectiveness of our lightweight training strategy is shown by the high score obtained on the MuST-C en-de corpus (26.7 BLEU) and is confirmed in high-resource data conditions by a 1.6 BLEU improvement on the IWSLT2020 test set over last year’s winning system.


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Simultaneous Speech Translation for Live Subtitling: from Delay to Display
Alina Karakanta | Sara Papi | Matteo Negri | Marco Turchi
Proceedings of the 1st Workshop on Automatic Spoken Language Translation in Real-World Settings (ASLTRW)

With the increased audiovisualisation of communication, the need for live subtitles in multilingual events is more relevant than ever. In an attempt to automatise the process, we aim at exploring the feasibility of simultaneous speech translation (SimulST) for live subtitling. However, the word-for-word rate of generation of SimulST systems is not optimal for displaying the subtitles in a comprehensible and readable way. In this work, we adapt SimulST systems to predict subtitle breaks along with the translation. We then propose a display mode that exploits the predicted break structure by presenting the subtitles in scrolling lines. We compare our proposed mode with a display 1) word-for-word and 2) in blocks, in terms of reading speed and delay. Experiments on three language pairs (en→it, de, fr) show that scrolling lines is the only mode achieving an acceptable reading speed while keeping delay close to a 4-second threshold. We argue that simultaneous translation for readable live subtitles still faces challenges, the main one being poor translation quality, and propose directions for steering future research.

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Dealing with training and test segmentation mismatch: FBK@IWSLT2021
Sara Papi | Marco Gaido | Matteo Negri | Marco Turchi
Proceedings of the 18th International Conference on Spoken Language Translation (IWSLT 2021)

This paper describes FBK’s system submission to the IWSLT 2021 Offline Speech Translation task. We participated with a direct model, which is a Transformer-based architecture trained to translate English speech audio data into German texts. The training pipeline is characterized by knowledge distillation and a two-step fine-tuning procedure. Both knowledge distillation and the first fine-tuning step are carried out on manually segmented real and synthetic data, the latter being generated with an MT system trained on the available corpora. Differently, the second fine-tuning step is carried out on a random segmentation of the MuST-C v2 En-De dataset. Its main goal is to reduce the performance drops occurring when a speech translation model trained on manually segmented data (i.e. an ideal, sentence-like segmentation) is evaluated on automatically segmented audio (i.e. actual, more realistic testing conditions). For the same purpose, a custom hybrid segmentation procedure that accounts for both audio content (pauses) and for the length of the produced segments is applied to the test data before passing them to the system. At inference time, we compared this procedure with a baseline segmentation method based on Voice Activity Detection (VAD). Our results indicate the effectiveness of the proposed hybrid approach, shown by a reduction of the gap with manual segmentation from 8.3 to 1.4 BLEU points.

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Speechformer: Reducing Information Loss in Direct Speech Translation
Sara Papi | Marco Gaido | Matteo Negri | Marco Turchi
Proceedings of the 2021 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing

Transformer-based models have gained increasing popularity achieving state-of-the-art performance in many research fields including speech translation. However, Transformer’s quadratic complexity with respect to the input sequence length prevents its adoption as is with audio signals, which are typically represented by long sequences. Current solutions resort to an initial sub-optimal compression based on a fixed sampling of raw audio features. Therefore, potentially useful linguistic information is not accessible to higher-level layers in the architecture. To solve this issue, we propose Speechformer, an architecture that, thanks to reduced memory usage in the attention layers, avoids the initial lossy compression and aggregates information only at a higher level according to more informed linguistic criteria. Experiments on three language pairs (en→de/es/nl) show the efficacy of our solution, with gains of up to 0.8 BLEU on the standard MuST-C corpus and of up to 4.0 BLEU in a low resource scenario.