Oracle Teacher: Leveraging Target Information for Better Knowledge Distillation of CTC Models

5 Nov 2021  ·  Ji Won Yoon, Hyung Yong Kim, Hyeonseung Lee, Sunghwan Ahn, Nam Soo Kim ·

Knowledge distillation (KD), best known as an effective method for model compression, aims at transferring the knowledge of a bigger network (teacher) to a much smaller network (student). Conventional KD methods usually employ the teacher model trained in a supervised manner, where output labels are treated only as targets. Extending this supervised scheme further, we introduce a new type of teacher model for connectionist temporal classification (CTC)-based sequence models, namely Oracle Teacher, that leverages both the source inputs and the output labels as the teacher model's input. Since the Oracle Teacher learns a more accurate CTC alignment by referring to the target information, it can provide the student with more optimal guidance. One potential risk for the proposed approach is a trivial solution that the model's output directly copies the target input. Based on a many-to-one mapping property of the CTC algorithm, we present a training strategy that can effectively prevent the trivial solution and thus enables utilizing both source and target inputs for model training. Extensive experiments are conducted on two sequence learning tasks: speech recognition and scene text recognition. From the experimental results, we empirically show that the proposed model improves the students across these tasks while achieving a considerable speed-up in the teacher model's training time.

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