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End-to-End (E2E) approach, which maps a sequence of input features into a sequence of grapheme or words, to Automatic Speech Recognition (ASR) is a hot research agenda. It is interesting for less-resourced languages since it avoids the use of pronunciation dictionary, which is one of the major components in the traditional ASR systems. However, like any deep neural network (DNN) approaches, E2E is data greedy. This makes the application of E2E to less-resourced languages questionable.

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Modern wake word detection systems usually rely on neural networks for acoustic modeling. Transformers has recently shown superior performance over LSTM and convolutional networks in various sequence modeling tasks with their better temporal modeling power. However it is not clear whether this advantage still holds for short-range temporal modeling like wake word detection. Besides, the vanilla Transformer is not directly applicable to the task due to its non-streaming nature and the quadratic time and space complexity.

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We investigate a set of techniques for RNN Transducers (RNN-Ts) that were instrumental in lowering the word error rate on three different tasks (Switchboard 300 hours, conversational Spanish 780 hours and conversational Italian 900 hours). The techniques pertain to architectural changes, speaker adaptation, language model fusion, model combination and general training recipe. First, we introduce a novel multiplicative integration of the encoder and prediction network vectors in the joint network (as opposed to additive).

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To join the advantages of classical and end-to-end approaches for speech recognition, we present a simple, novel and competitive approach for phoneme-based neural transducer modeling. Different alignment label topologies are compared and word-end-based phoneme label augmentation is proposed to improve performance. Utilizing the local dependency of phonemes, we adopt a simplified neural network structure and a straightforward integration with the external word-level language model to preserve the consistency of seq-to-seq modeling.

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Magnitude spectrum-based features are the most widely employed front-ends for acoustic modelling in automatic speech recognition (ASR) systems. In this paper, we investigate the possibility and efficacy of acoustic modelling using the raw short-time phase spectrum. In particular, we study the usefulness of the raw wrapped, unwrapped and minimum-phase phase spectra as well as the phase of the source and filter components for acoustic modelling.

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