Sequence Transduction with Graph-based Supervision

The recurrent neural network transducer (RNN-T) objective plays a major role in building today's best automatic speech recognition (ASR) systems for production. Similarly to the connectionist temporal classification (CTC) objective, the RNN-T loss uses specific rules that define how a set of alignments is generated to form a lattice for the full-sum training. However, it is yet largely unknown if these rules are optimal and do lead to the best possible ASR results. In this work, we present a new transducer objective function that generalizes the RNN-T loss to accept a graph representation of the labels, thus providing a flexible and efficient framework to manipulate training lattices, e.g., for studying different transition rules, implementing different transducer losses, or restricting alignments. We demonstrate that transducer-based ASR with CTC-like lattice achieves better results compared to standard RNN-T, while also ensuring a strictly monotonic alignment, which will allow better optimization of the decoding procedure. For example, the proposed CTC-like transducer achieves an improvement of 4.8% on the test-other condition of LibriSpeech relative to an equivalent RNN-T based system.

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