Multi-blank Transducers for Speech Recognition

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This paper proposes a modification to RNN-Transducer (RNN-T) models for automatic speech recognition (ASR). In standard RNN-T, the emission of a blank symbol consumes exactly one input frame; in our proposed method, we introduce additional blank symbols, which consume two or more input frames when emitted. We refer to the added symbols as big blanks, and the method multi-blank RNN-T. For training multi-blank RNN-Ts, we propose a novel logit under-normalization method in order to prioritize emissions of big blanks. With experiments on multiple languages and datasets, we show that multi-blank RNN-T methods could bring relative speedups of over +90%/+139% to model inference for English Librispeech and German Multilingual Librispeech datasets, respectively. The multi-blank RNN-T method also improves ASR accuracy consistently. We will release our implementation of the method in the NeMo (this https URL) toolkit.


Hainan Xu (NVIDIA)
Fei Jia (NVIDIA)
Somshubra Majumdar (NVIDIA)
Shinji Watanabe (Carnegie Mellon University)
Boris Ginsburg (NVIDIA)

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