An Improved Single Step Non-autoregressive Transformer for Automatic Speech Recognition

18 Jun 2021  ·  Ruchao Fan, Wei Chu, Peng Chang, Jing Xiao, Abeer Alwan ·

Non-autoregressive mechanisms can significantly decrease inference time for speech transformers, especially when the single step variant is applied. Previous work on CTC alignment-based single step non-autoregressive transformer (CASS-NAT) has shown a large real time factor (RTF) improvement over autoregressive transformers (AT). In this work, we propose several methods to improve the accuracy of the end-to-end CASS-NAT, followed by performance analyses. First, convolution augmented self-attention blocks are applied to both the encoder and decoder modules. Second, we propose to expand the trigger mask (acoustic boundary) for each token to increase the robustness of CTC alignments. In addition, iterated loss functions are used to enhance the gradient update of low-layer parameters. Without using an external language model, the WERs of the improved CASS-NAT, when using the three methods, are 3.1%/7.2% on Librispeech test clean/other sets and the CER is 5.4% on the Aishell1 test set, achieving a 7%~21% relative WER/CER improvement. For the analyses, we plot attention weight distributions in the decoders to visualize the relationships between token-level acoustic embeddings. When the acoustic embeddings are visualized, we find that they have a similar behavior to word embeddings, which explains why the improved CASS-NAT performs similarly to AT.

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