[Elsnet-list] Post-doc opening at Idiap

Phil Garner Phil.Garner at idiap.ch
Tue Jul 17 14:45:16 CEST 2012

The Idiap Research Institute seeks qualified candidates for one
post-doctoral research position in the area of automatic speech
recognition in the Swiss language environment.

Swiss communication is highly dependent upon region, both in a
language sense and a dialect and accent sense.  Experiments have shown
that ASR trained for a given dialect or accent does not perform well
on a related, but distinct, dialect or accent. For instance, a system
trained for the Valaisan accent will perform worse in the context of a
Vaud accent. This means that in a homogeneous environment, ASR cannot
currently work well. Practically, it is undesirable to train separate
systems for each target group; intuitively, such systems should
benefit from data sharing or combination.

Our current exemplar is the Valaisan parliament, in which the
difficulty is further compounded in that native speakers of one
language (typically French or German) are often required to speak
another language. Non-native accents have also been shown by
experiment to cause difficulty for ASR.  Finally one would expect to
be able to use, say, a French system trained on general French data,
to recognise Swiss French. Experiments have shown that this is also
difficult. A combination of general French with Swiss French does not
improve upon a purely Swiss French system. The situation for German is
expected to be worse.

We hence seek a post-doctoral researcher to address the above
problem. The task may be described as "Hierarchical adaptation to
dialect and accent". The successful candidate will investigate the
following adaptation hierarchy:

1. Given a well trained French or German system, how can it be adapted
to work for Swiss accented French or (standard "high") German?

2. Given a well trained Swiss French or German system, how can it be
adapted to work for a given speaker or accent?

3. Given well trained Swiss French and German systems, how can they be
adapted (either independently or together) to work for a non-native

We expect the solution to the above to lie in the vast literature on
acoustic model and pronunciation adaptation; in particular the
concepts of MAP and MLLR adaptation, accent adaptive adaptation and
pronunciation modelling. Initial work suggests that the Subspace
Gaussian Mixture Model (SGMM) approach is promising as it includes
such adaptation in the model design.

The work will require some knowledge of:

o Adaptation techniques in ASR.

o The linguistics of accent and dialect differences in Switzerland. To
this end, the post would suit a native speaker of French or, ideally,

We also envisage a significant amount of database and software
integration work.

In parallel with the above, there is some requirement to bring
together the work into a demonstrable form. This will require
assisting development engineers with integration of, for instance,
Idiap’s Juicer and Tracter ASR and signal processing frameworks with
other solutions such as Kaldi.  We stress that the candidate will not
work alone; the team will comprise developers as well as senior
research scientists, and the work is closely related to other projects
within the same group.

The applicant should have a PhD (or equivalent experience) in a
subject related to the description above; strong computer skills are
also essential. Preference will be given to a speaker of French or
German. The candidates should demonstrate good communication and
writing skills in English. The position is funded initially for 18
months, with the hope that it will be extended. The post will remain
open until filled.

About Idiap: 	

Idiap is an independent, non-profit research institute recognized and
supported by the Swiss Government, and affiliated with the Ecole
Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL). It is located in the town
of Martigny in Valais, a scenic region in the south of Switzerland,
surrounded by the highest mountains of Europe, and offering exciting
recreational activities, including hiking, climbing and skiing, as
well as varied cultural activities. It is within close proximity to
Geneva and Lausanne. Although Idiap is located in the French part of
Switzerland, English is the working language. Free French lessons are

Idiap offers competitive salaries and conditions at all levels in a
young, dynamic, and multicultural environment. Idiap is an equal
opportunity employer and is actively involved in the "Advancement of
Women in Science" European initiative. The Institute seeks to maintain
a principle of open competition (on the basis of merit) to appoint the
best candidate, provides equal opportunity for all candidates, and
equally encourage both genders to apply.

More details:



Phil Garner

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