Branchformer: Parallel MLP-Attention Architectures to Capture Local and Global Context for Speech Recognition and Understanding

6 Jul 2022  ·  Yifan Peng, Siddharth Dalmia, Ian Lane, Shinji Watanabe ·

Conformer has proven to be effective in many speech processing tasks. It combines the benefits of extracting local dependencies using convolutions and global dependencies using self-attention. Inspired by this, we propose a more flexible, interpretable and customizable encoder alternative, Branchformer, with parallel branches for modeling various ranged dependencies in end-to-end speech processing. In each encoder layer, one branch employs self-attention or its variant to capture long-range dependencies, while the other branch utilizes an MLP module with convolutional gating (cgMLP) to extract local relationships. We conduct experiments on several speech recognition and spoken language understanding benchmarks. Results show that our model outperforms both Transformer and cgMLP. It also matches with or outperforms state-of-the-art results achieved by Conformer. Furthermore, we show various strategies to reduce computation thanks to the two-branch architecture, including the ability to have variable inference complexity in a single trained model. The weights learned for merging branches indicate how local and global dependencies are utilized in different layers, which benefits model designing.

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