Lehnen et al., ICASSP 2011. Incorporating Alignments into Conditional Random Fields for Grapheme to Phoneme Conversion

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Patrick Lehnen, Stefan Hahn, Andreas Guta and Hermann Ney. 2011. Incorporating Alignments into Conditional Random Fields for Grapheme to Phoneme Conversion. In Proceedings of the IEEE International Conference on Acoustics, Speech, and Signal Processing, ICASSP-2011.

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Incorporating Alignments into Conditional Random Fields for Grapheme to Phoneme Conversion


The authors present a novel approach in this paper for better grapheme to phoneme (g2p) conversion using conditional random fields. They argue that alignments are crucial in g2p conversion and are usually added by external models. Thus, the authors introduce an approach by which the alignment generation step can be efficiently added into the CRF training process. This is achieved in two ways. One in which linear segmentation is considered and the other in which all possible alignments given some constraints are incorporated in the CRF model. Apart from the standard CRF training process, the authors also introduce alignment as a hidden variable in the model.


A conditional random field is modeled as:


The authors add alignment by modeling it as a hidden variable, in CRFs as follows,

They model the tuple by a projection using the BIO labeling scheme, restricting it to a 1-to-1 or many-to-one monotonic alignment scheme.


The CRF model incorporating alignment as a hidden variable can be trained in two ways,

  • Maximization approach
  • Summation approach

Maximization Approach

This approach assumes a linear segmentation at the beginning and trains the CRF using an Expectation-Maximization like algorithm. The maximization step of the training process is given by,

The expectation step is given by,

This training continues in a CRF training/resegmentation loop until convergence.

Summation Approach

In this approach, alignments are summer over directly by modeling the CRF as,

The numerator term is similar to the denominator term and can be solved by the same posterior approach using the Forward-Backward algorithm.

Experiments and Results


Experiments are reported on two publicly available English g2p corpora:

  • NETtalk corpus, consisting about 15k grapheme/phoneme word pairs. About 1000 g2p pairs are used as development set. Gold standard manual alignments are available in this corpus.
  • The Celex corpus, containing about 40k g2p word pairs. Test set is about 15k words in size.

Evaluation Metric

The authors report error rates in terms of phoneme error rate (PER) and word error rate (WER).


Results of the paper are shown in Table 1. The authors compare their approach with other automated alignment generation approaches like joint n-gram modeling, GIZA++ etc.

Table 1: Effect of various alignments on two g2p tasks.

Maximization is empirically shown to perform better the summation approach. Their approach compares favorably against joint n-gram sequence modeling approach and word alignment approach using GIZA++. Summation approach performs better than linear segmentation.

Related Papers

[1] Maximilian Bisani and Hermann Ney. 2008. Joint-sequence models for grapheme-to-phoneme conversion. Speech Communication, vol. 50, no. 5, pp. 434–451, May 2008.

[2] Sittichai Jiampojamarn and Grzegorz Kondrak. 2009. Online discriminative training for grapheme-to-phoneme conversion. In Proceedings of ISCA Interspeech, Brighton, U.K., Sept. 2009, pp. 1303–1306.