Phone Recognition with the Mean-Covariance Restricted Boltzmann Machine

Part of Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 23 (NIPS 2010)

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George Dahl, Marc'aurelio Ranzato, Abdel-rahman Mohamed, Geoffrey E. Hinton


Straightforward application of Deep Belief Nets (DBNs) to acoustic modeling produces a rich distributed representation of speech data that is useful for recognition and yields impressive results on the speaker-independent TIMIT phone recognition task. However, the first-layer Gaussian-Bernoulli Restricted Boltzmann Machine (GRBM) has an important limitation, shared with mixtures of diagonal-covariance Gaussians: GRBMs treat different components of the acoustic input vector as conditionally independent given the hidden state. The mean-covariance restricted Boltzmann machine (mcRBM), first introduced for modeling natural images, is a much more representationally efficient and powerful way of modeling the covariance structure of speech data. Every configuration of the precision units of the mcRBM specifies a different precision matrix for the conditional distribution over the acoustic space. In this work, we use the mcRBM to learn features of speech data that serve as input into a standard DBN. The mcRBM features combined with DBNs allow us to achieve a phone error rate of 20.5\%, which is superior to all published results on speaker-independent TIMIT to date.