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Work in the area of speech recognition by computer has been taking place for about 30 years — almost since the inception of the computer itself. The results of these efforts can be seen today in a number of products capable of various degrees of speech recognition. Although the systems used in these products exhibit limitations when compared to people's ability to recognize and respond to speech, the use of speech in our everyday work is so natural and desirable that these systems are finding numerous applications. Speech recognition has even become important on a global level, as can be seen by the integral role it will play in the proposed fifth-generation Japanese computer system. This system, which is designed to provide three major functions — intelligent interface, knowledge-base management, and problem solving — will provide communications with the computer in a form natural to humans, particularly via speech and graphics.