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Title: Optimisation methods for training deep neural networks in speech recognition
Author: Haider, Mustafa Adnan
ISNI:       0000 0004 7961 8101
Awarding Body: University of Cambridge
Current Institution: University of Cambridge
Date of Award: 2019
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Automatic Speech Recognition (ASR) is an example of a sequence to sequence level classification task where, given an acoustic waveform, the goal is to produce the correct word level hypotheses. In machine learning, a classification problem such as ASR is solved in two stages: an inference stage that models the uncertainty associated with the choice of hypothesis given the acoustic waveform using a mathematical model, and a decision stage which employs the inference model in conjunction with decision theory to make optimal class assignments. With the advent of careful network initialisation and GPU computing, hybrid Hidden Markov Models (HMMs) augmented with Deep Neural Networks (DNNs) have shown to outperform traditional HMMs using Gaussian Mixture Models (GMMs) in solving the inference problem for ASR. In comparison to GMMs, DNNs possess a better capability to model the underlying non-linear data manifold due to their deep and complex structure. While the structure of such models gives rich modelling capability, it also creates complex dependencies between the parameters which can make learning difficult via first order stochastic gradient descent (SGD). The task of finding the best procedure to train DNNs continues to be an active area of research and has been made even more challenging by the availability of ever more training data. This thesis focuses on designing better optimisation approaches to train hybrid HMM-DNN models using sequence level discriminative criterion which is a natural loss function that preserves the sequential ordering of frames within a spoken utterance. The thesis presents an implementation of the second order Hessian Free (HF) optimisation method, and shows how the method can made efficient through appropriate modifications to the Conjugate Gradient algorithm. To achieve better convergence than SGD, this work explores the Natural Gradient method to train DNNs with discriminative sequence training. In the DNN literature, the method has been applied to train models for the Maximum Likelihood objective criterion. A novel contribution of this thesis is to extend this approach to the domain of Minimum Bayes Risk objective functions for discriminative sequence training. With sigmoid models trained on a 50hr and 200hr training set from the Multi-Genre Broadcast 1 (MGB1) transcription task, the NG method applied in a HF styled optimisation framework is shown to achieve better Word Error Rate (WER) reductions on the MGB1 development set than SGD from sequence training. This thesis also addresses the particular issue of overfitting between the training criterion and WER, that primarily arises during sequence training of DNN models that use Rectified Linear Units (ReLUs) as activation functions. It is shown how by scaling with the Gauss Newton matrix, the HF method unlike other approaches can overcome this issue. Seeing that different optimisers work best with different models, it is attractive to have a consistent optimisation framework that is agnostic to the choice of activation function. To address the issue, this thesis develops the geometry of the underlying function space captured by different realisations of DNN model parameters, and presents the design considerations for an optimisation algorithm to be well defined on this space. Building on this analysis, a novel optimisation technique called NGHF is presented that uses both the direction of steepest descent on a probabilistic manifold and local curvature information to effectively probe the error surface. The basis of the method relies on an alternative derivation of Taylor's theorem using the concepts of manifolds, tangent vectors and directional derivatives from the perspective of Information Geometry. Apart from being well defined on the function space, when framed within a HF style optimisation framework, the method of NGHF is shown to achieve the greatest WER reductions from sequence training on the MGB1 development set with both sigmoid and ReLU based models trained on the 200hr MGB1 training set. The evaluation of the above optimisation methods in training different DNN model architectures is also presented.
Supervisor: Woodland, Philip C. Sponsor: IDB Cambridge International Scholarship
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: Deep Neural Networks ; Speech Recognition ; Optimisation ; Natural Gradient ; Second order