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Statistical language models used in large-vocabulary speech recognition must properly encapsulate the various constraints, both local and global, present in the language. While local constraints are readily captured through n-gram modeling, global constraints, such as long-term semantic dependencies, have been more difficult to handle within a data-driven formalism. This paper focuses on the use of latent semantic analysis, a paradigm that automatically uncovers the salient semantic relationships between words and documents in a given corpus. In this approach, (discrete) words and documents are mapped onto a (continuous) semantic vector space, in which familiar clustering techniques can be applied. This leads to the specification of a powerful framework for automatic semantic classification, as well as the derivation of several language model families with various smoothing properties. Because of their large-span nature, these language models are well suited to complement conventional n-grams. An integrative formulation is proposed for harnessing this synergy, in which the latent semantic information is used to adjust the standard n-gram probability. Such hybrid language modeling compares favorably with the corresponding n-gram baseline: experiments conducted on the Wall Street Journal domain show a reduction in average word error rate of over 20%. This paper concludes with a discussion of intrinsic tradeoffs, such as the influence of training data selection on the resulting performance.
Date of Publication: Aug. 2000